A Travellerspoint blog

Ruins and Safari

January 27, 2016

sunny 31 °C
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Right after breakfast, we enjoyed a visit from the Malabar Pied Hornbills. Apparently, they visit almost every day. Then we rented bikes from the hotel. We rode over to the large area of ruins here. Riding a bike along the side of the main road with cars, buses, and trucks passing within inches of you is pretty terrifying. Luckily, we didn't have too far to go. The road thru the ruins is a lovely brick paved road with lots of shade. We started at the far end, on the advise of Nimal, where there are fewer tourists early in the day. And it worked, we were almost alone at the first couple of sites we stopped at. Then as we progressed, the tour buses showed up and the crowds got much thicker. The ruins are very interesting, hard to believe they were built mostly in the 12th century. Lots of the intricate friezes are still very beautiful.
Hornbills are ridiculous looking birds

Hornbills are ridiculous looking birds


We found a small place in town to have lunch, after we finished in the ruins. Another terrifying bike ride! And then to the Archaeological Museum for a quick look at some of the artifacts they have recovered.
We rode back to the hotel and met up with our safari jeep driver. He loaded us into the back of his jeep truck and took us on a tour of some back roads thru villages and along some of the many irrigation canals. It was very interesting to see people going about their ordinary lives, swimming in the canal and/or doing their laundry, bathing, etc. They almost all waved and called Hello, as we went by. Some of the children came running out to the road to greet us. We saw some birds and an iguana/land monitor? as well as we traveled.
People going into the canal to bath

People going into the canal to bath


We proceeded on to back roads beside a couple of the national parks in the area. We were lucky enough to come upon a group of elephants feeding right beside the road. We also saw one of the elephants, possibly the matriarch?, start to charge a motorcycle that came by. Apparently, the elephants do not like motorcycles. I'd like to know the story behind that one.
Elephant checking out the traffic

Elephant checking out the traffic


Home we came at dusk, to a shower, and another delicious supper.

Posted by katdill 18:53 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Polonnaruwa

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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We packed up and had Sulin order us a couple of tuk-tuks. When we were loaded up, our tuk-tuk could not make it up the driveway hill, which is very steep. So Don and I walked up the hill, while he drove our luggage up to the top. Then we were off to the bus depot. These tuk-tuk rides thru heavy traffic and traffic jams are unbelievable. I think a dash cam on a tuk-tuk here for a day would be wild. They fit thru spaces between buses and other vehicles that don't seem possible. We found the bus in the chaos of the bus depot, although we had been told we could get an air-conditioned express bus, but no, just a regular bus was available. So away we went.
About 3 1/2 hours later, we arrived. There was even one bathroom stop along the way. This bus made pretty good time, although it did do lots of stopping for passengers getting on and off.
Our hotel manager met us at the bus stop and had two tuk-tuks ready to bring us to the small hotel, Hotel Ancient Village. It is a very new looking place, with nice spacious rooms and views out over the rice fields. He ordered up some fried rice lunch for us and then we lay about in the a/c, avoiding the heat of the day.
Later in the afternoon, Rob, Don and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. We are very close to a large reservoir and we walked up the berm to the road on top. We found some ruins very close by and did some bird watching. When we returned to the hotel, it was time for a shower and then a delicious rice and curry meal.
Mossy ruins

Mossy ruins


The internet is very slow here, so I'm afraid I won't be able to post many pictures.

Posted by katdill 16:57 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Visa, visa, visa and more Forest

Monday, January 25, 2016

sunny 30 °C
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We realized we have to get our visa for India taken care of. I had tried to do an E-visa from home, but there was too much time between the application and the time we arrived so it would not accept our application. So I attempted to do it online last night and this morning, finding many roadblocks in the way. And every time I saved and exited, I had to start over and completely redo the form. So in disgust, I gave up and said let's go to the Visa office, thinking that would be easier. Not so - we had to travel quite a long way by tuk-tuk to get there and then wait for quite awhile before getting a form filled out, etc. Then when our visa forms were accepted, we were told we had to come back Feb 5 to pick up our visas. Well, we expect to be in the Maldives then, not waiting around in Kandy for our visas. Bah! Looks like changing travel plans will be necessary and expensive.
So we left the visa office and rode the bus downtown to meet up with Rob and Mani.
After having a nice lunch at the Empire Cafe, things didn't look quite so grim, although not good. Rob, Don and I decided to go back to the Forest Reserve that Don and I had visited yesterday. It is such a lovely place and we had only seen part of it. The trees are so big that even on a hot, sunny day it is so pleasant under the shade of the trees.
Giant Liana vine

Giant Liana vine

Monkey family

Monkey family


Mani decided to go shopping again and ended up getting a sari and blouse, and a shalwar outfit custom made for her. Quite a productive afternoon for her.
We got supper at the nearby take away shop and had a light supper on the patio. Later on Kush and her husband came by for a little visit. They even brought ice cream and cake for a treat. A very nice gesture on their part.
I finally got my head around the whole online visa problem and successfully uploaded both our visa applications. We will know in 72 hours if they are granted and so will not do any travel changes until after that. Hopefully, this will work and we can ignore the visa office here.
Here's a picture of an embellishment store that I peeked into yesterday.
Decoration run wild!

Decoration run wild!

Posted by katdill 05:46 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Forest and Dancing

Sunday, January 24, 2016


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Don and I set off after breakfast to visit the Royal Forest Reserve. Rob and Mani stayed at the Eco-Villas so Mani could get some stuff done and we arranged to meet up later.
We took a tuk-tuk into the centre of town and after purchasing a city map (which turned out to be out-of-date and pretty useless) we started walking to the forest. We could not find a road which led to the forest from where we were walking (although that's not what the map said!). Don found some steps leading up - because of course the forest is up on a mountain - and up we started. It turned out the steps led to a residence and after disturbing several men at their morning ablutions, they generously allowed us to proceed across their yard and up the steep path into the forest. So we were in the forest finally but had not notion of where exactly we were in relation to the entry gate. So we just walked along the road thru the forest, picking directions at intersections, and finally reaching the entry/exit point. It would have been nice to spend more time there, because it was beautiful and shady, but we knew that walking back down and having lunch would likely use up all our time before meeting Rob and Mani. Udawattekale Royal Forest covers nearly 275 acres and has been a royal reserve since the 1300's. The trees are magnificent and the philodendrons climbing the trees are almost trees in themselves.
View of the city from the forest

View of the city from the forest

Philodendron covered trees

Philodendron covered trees


We walked down into the city, which was quite easy on the road, and looked for a restaurant for lunch. We had lunch in the Empire Cafe, which is kind of a throwback to the days of the British, and has very good food.
We met Rob and Mani at the Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre and bought tickets for the dance performance later. There were a a couple of women demonstrating their crafts at the centre, two weavers and a wood carver.
Weaver with almost finished wall hangings

Weaver with almost finished wall hangings

Loom

Loom


It was now time to shop and even though it was Sunday we found enough shops and market stalls open for us to have lots of fun, looking and sometimes buying things. The fabrics here are so beautiful, I succumbed to buying a meter of silk just because! (It only cost $5.50) Time goes quickly and soon it was time to return for the dance performance.
These dancers perform every day and the performance lasts one hour. They are dressed in wonderful costumes and there is such variety in the type of dances they perform.

After the final fire walking performance, we went to find some supper. We ate at the Balaji Dosai, which was delicious, and we had the interesting and messy cultural experience of eating without utensils. Most restaurants have sinks available in the restaurant for hand washing before and after eating.
Then it was time to come home and relax.

Posted by katdill 17:47 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Animal Videos

Leopard and Elephants

Here are a couple of videos Don has taken over the past few days. We have good internet here so I could finally upload them. Enjoy!

Posted by katdill 08:06 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged elephant leopard Comments (0)

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