My Trip to Sri Lanka – Sirigiya, Pinnewela, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya
The night before I was leaving for the tour, my landlady told me some people are not genuine and might rip me off. So I didn’t get much sleep thinking that I may be ripped off and that there was not going to be a tour of Sri Lanka for me. I was also pretty worried that I was alone with the driver and since travelling alone is pretty dangerous, what I would do if something went wrong. However, by 5.30 I had got confirmation that it was relatively genuine and I was going to go on this tour.
We left our hotel by 5.50 on the way to Pinnewela for the Elephant Orphanage there. We got to the orphanage by 8 o’clock, half an hour before the opening time. This meant that we could have some breakfast as we hadn’t eaten anything since the morning. When we went in, I realised that Indian citizens were charged much less than British citizens as India is one of the SAARC countries. I had no document to prove that I was an Indian citizen, but I tried to convince the officials there that I was by speaking in Hindi when I could and then I even showed them my Barclays debit card (a UK company) and said that this is a card from one of the Indian banks. After discussing between them, they allowed me in to the orphanage with my fake documentations. I got in using a debit card which was made in England for an English company for use within England. And they accepted it!
I walked in to the Elephant orphanage. I put my right leg in and then the left.. and then again I did the same, until I realised that I was walking! Inside, I was able to see quite a lot of elephants getting fed, washed by their care takers. However, we were not allowed to touch them. The sight of all the elephants being treated in such a cruel way was not really nice. I felt really bad for the elephants there as it felt that they weren’t happy being there. But what do I know, I don’t really know much about elephants and how they are/should be treated. Some elephants were led away to a nearby river where there were given a small bath. It was a very beautiful place where a river spread out over a lot of shallow rocks, increasing in its length and decreasing its depth. The elephants seemed to enjoy having a bath as they stayed in the water for a long, long time.
Soon after, we headed to Sigiriya, one of the most iconic places of Sri Lanka. Here, Indian citizens also got a discount, so I made sure that I had my old expired passport’s (10 years old, expired 5 years ago) photocopy on my phone in case they wanted proof. And it worked! They gave me the discount! 😛 Over there, I met a group of Indians from Mumbai who were working in Colombo as SAP Consultants. They had got the tickets just before I did, and helped me in acquiring mine. So I asked them if it would be fine for me to come along with them, as I would get some company. They agreed and I went with them. Sigiriya is a big rock that a King had built his palace on. To get to the top, you had to climb a lot of stairs. However, they have made it very accessible for normal public. There are stairs that go all the way to the top. So we were able to get there without a lot of extra effort. The day was very hot, however, and we were sweating quite a bit walking in direct sunlight. The day with the others was great as they provided me some company just as I started feeling homesick and missing my family back in UK. Thanks to them, I have quite a few good memories to take back. We failed to exchange numbers or names but I guess making my day was more than enough.
After visiting Sigiriya, we headed to the Cave Temple in Dumbulla but we got there too late as I spent too long at Sigiriya. So we headed straight to our hotel which was another 2 hours away. The hotel which was provided to me was very beautiful.
The next day, our plan was to visit the Botanical Gardens and the Buddhist Temple of Tooth in Kandy before heading off to Nuwara Eliya. However, since I was short on time, I decided to cover one of them but cover it fully. I didn’t want to have to pay so much and then not get a chance to see it all. So I decided to see the Botanical Gardens for two to three hours, which was HUGE! The gardens had lots and lots of different varieties of flowers, trees, plants and so on, that you could spend a whole day and still not be able to cover it all. There were quite a few species of palm trees itself, which surprised me quite a bit. Since we had started early in the morning, I was able to cover most of the garden when the weather was not too hot. This allowed me to enjoy myself rather than worry about how hot it was. This place was a photographers paradise (especially for nature photographers) as there are so many things you could see and so many different angles to them as well, it was just amazing. I nearly finished 3/4 of my camera’s battery at this place as there was just so much to see and so many interesting things to take photos of. After spending around 3 hours at the garden, we headed to see the Buddhist Temple of Tooth for outside. It was located right off he coast of a lake (or a river) so the drive there was quite long but it had very nice surroundings. We couldn’t stop there as we were short on time and the parking was too far away from the temple itself. So we decided to turn back and head to Nuwara Eliya.
We then headed to the highlands of Sri Lanka; a hill station. Nuwara Eliya. The road to the top was very beautiful. There was tea plantation on every possible piece of land that you could find. Since Sri Lanka is famous for its tea, I was expecting to see something. However, after getting there I was surprised as I underestimated it all. Every mountain was covered with tea plants and the smell of fresh tea leaves in the air was also very calming. On the way to the top, we saw a tea factory and decided to stop there. I was able to go in and see how the tea is made from its leaves and the process to make it. It was very insightful. We were given free tea to try, it was stronger than I had ever tried (maybe because it’s fresh?).
The road onwards was very beautiful, however my driver would not stop whenever there was a good view, and would stop when there wasn’t. So that was pretty annoying. At the top, I got the best weather of my whole trip. Around 20 degrees Celsius compared to 30+ everywhere else. In Nuwara Eliya, we walked around the lake for a while and then headed to the Seetha Mandir. The people who came before me had paid to do a prayer at the temple, and I was lucky to be there as I got to do it too! Then I was able to talk to the Pundit there and ask him about the history behind the place. The temple was at a picturesque place; in a valley of mountains. There were quite a few monkeys around there which was quite fun to see. There was also a small waterfall just behind the temple, and since I love waterfalls, I decided to go there and just sit in front of it for a while. I sat there for an hour or so enjoying the sound of the water splashing down and then my driver told me that there was another botanical garden just down the road. And so I decided to go there too!
This Botanical garden was much smaller than the one in Kandy but it was on a hill. So I bought the ticket and went inside. Just as I was entering, a group of school children were leaving and every. single. one. of them waved me goodbye (I think they recognised I was a tourist). That was a highlight of my trip to that garden. The garden was made as a jungle with very little concrete paths and mostly just rocks to walk over. Since I had got there so late, most of the time I was the only on there and I got a lot of free time to myself.
After spending about 2 hours there, we headed back to Colombo, which was another 200km journey.
And what happens next, you won’t believe!!!!