A Travellerspoint blog

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On the countdown

Last minute prep for Sri Lanka

sunny 33 °C

It's just about time to sit down and seriously consider whether I'm ready for this trip. No packing yet, but that will come together when it needs to - it's all in my head. No currency yet - again, I'm not too bothered. What I do have is my Sri Lanka ETA, so hopefully they will let me stay when I arrive there at midnight on Saturday. Oh, and my camera is charged!

In some ways it's almost a shame to be leaving the glorious Melbourne summer weather, but it's also the best time to be in Sri Lanka, so I'm happy to be going now.

The plan is something along the lines of an easy, circular introduction to the southern half of the country; a bit of culture, a few ruins, hopefully some wildlife and definitely one or two spectacular beaches.


So, fingers crossed, by Sunday I'll be in Negombo and then all I will need for this blog is some occasional relaxation time and the wifi to make it happen.

Posted by Andrea R 20:50 Archived in Australia Tagged me melbourne packing weather Comments (0)

The Cultural Triangle

In search of Elephas Maximus Maximus

rain 29 °C

In the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka to see the treasures of the ancient cities (three world heritage sites in three days), with a couple of elephant-based activities thrown in for fun, I never expected to be so torn. But in this little competition, Mother Nature has won me over.

Beginning on Tuesday afternoon we went on an elephant ride around the Habarana reservoir on Rani, a 27yo ‘single lady’ with a penchant for bananas. I think ‘single’ possibly means childless in this case. She was quite vocal before she met us, which made me a little nervous, but noticing that she went to the toilet before we set off on our adventure, I thought “Here’s a sensible woman”. She didn’t seem too embarrassed to overhear the mahout telling us that she does 15kg of kaka every day!


Along the way Rani would let us know when she was ready for another banana by raising her trunk and gently blowing warm air on us. I was sitting at the front, so I would touch the end of her trunk with the banana, and she would delicately kind of suction it out of my fingers, and lower it down to her mouth. Here is my lingering image of the gentle lady.


The only time things got a little hairy was at the halfway point, when Rani was allowed to take us into the water while she had a drink and turned around. If she had been just a fraction cheekier, we could have had a dunking.


The next day we had the option to take a late afternoon jeep safari onto Minneriya National Park, not far from Habarana. Our expectations were exceptionally well-managed, leaving us all completely blown away with the experience of getting up close and personal with herds of wild elephants. So close in fact that at one point we had to ask our driver to move us a bit further away, as the animals were getting so close. One particular herd that we spent quite a long time with had at least half a dozen babies, including one that was no more than 2-3 weeks old.



Even at such a young age, the wild elephants were learning how to take care of themselves. Although they are nursed by their mothers for quite some time, they were already mimicking the older elephants, pulling up clumps of grass and shaking them to get the sandy soil off the roots, ready to eat.


I’ve added some extra pics to my gallery, so take a look.

Posted by Andrea R 18:30 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged wildlife elephants national_park Comments (2)

From Dambulla to Kandy

An ayurvedic interlude

semi-overcast 25 °C

Distances in Sri Lanka are not vast, but it takes a long time to get anywhere. This is partly due to the roads, but also because minibuses and other larger vehicles are speed-limited. To break up the journey from our base in the Cultural Triangle to Kandy (and out of the monsoon belt), we stopped just outside of Matale at a place that specialises in spices, herbs and ayurvedic medicine.

Our guide was a wealth of information, throwing recipes at us for everything from constipation to weightloss to a good cup of bedtime spice tea. He was able to reel off the history and 101 uses for practically everything in the garden. I must say it felt good to hear the benefits of the cocoa bean so highly regarded (and consequent consumption encouraged of 70% dark chocolate IN MODERATION, but every day).


At the end of the garden tour we were given information sheets with all the recipes and primary uses, then a short massage! This was designed to limber up not only our bodies, but also our wallets. Judging from Silvia’s haul, it worked.


But seriously, I never really knew much about what ayurveda was before. It’s a really interesting discipline – one I think I will investigate more over time.

PS One of the many uses for cinnamon oil is to warm the body by rubbing a small amount on the feet, behind the ears and under the fingernails. Arriving in Nuwara Eliya, where the temperature drops as soon as the sun goes down, we tried it out and it worked like a charm.

Posted by Andrea R 21:45 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged massage medicine spice ayurveda Comments (0)

In Kandy

Peradeniya Botanical Garden

sunny 28 °C

Just a quick post to show you one of my Kandy highlights, the Peradeniya Botanical Garden. Of the four botanic gardens in Sri Lanka, the one just outside Kandy is the largest. It also has an exclusive royal pedigree, and I could see why. On Saturday though - a perfect sunny morning in Kandy - the garden was a magnet for tourists, couples, families and those celebrating special occasions.


Based on their clothing, this couple was having their 'homecoming' photos taken; that is, coming home from the honeymoon.

In some parts of he garden you would not realise you were in Sri Lanka.

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But in others, such as the orchid house, it all made sense.

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A lovely place to while away a few hours on a Saturday morning.

Posted by Andrea R 22:28 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged parks flowers nature garden Comments (0)

Nuwara Eliya

Walking to World's End

sunny 22 °C

Most of Sri Lanka is tropical jungle, a bit like the Malay Peninsula, but Nuwara Eliya (aka Little England or Little Scotland) and surrounds could be twinned with Tasmania. We left the tea plantations behind to climb a bit higher to Horton Plains National Park so that we could walk to the end of the world.


On the circuit walk, Mini World's End provides a practice run. Two out of three visits are said to be disappointingly misty, but we luckily had perfect conditions.


And then, half an hour later it is the real thing. I was too scared to get close to the edge.


On a clear day you can supposedly see to the sea. Despite the perfect blue skies, the distance was a bit too hazy to be able to confirm this.

The walk was about 9km in total, with varied scenery and not at all difficult.


At around 6km it was getting quite warm, so Baker Falls was a welcome respite.


Posted by Andrea R 21:52 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged waterfalls nature walk national_park Comments (1)

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