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Trip Report Just back from Sri Lanka

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I’m back after a 13 day trip to Sri Lanka. I also stopped in the Maldives and Singapore for a few extra days.

After arriving at the airport north of Colombo, I took a taxi to Mount Lavinia Beach ($40 Ouch!) and stayed three nights at a beach side hostel. I met travelers from Ethiopia, Germany and Australia. They had a nice front porch where we could sit, drink and share stories together.

My second day I took the train down to Galle. I had quite a full day visiting the spice garden, the fisherman spear fishing and the old Dutch fort. I took the bus back to Mt. Lavinia that evening.

My third day I went to the Mt. Lavinia Hotel and got a day pass and sat around the pool. This is a beautiful hotel that is 200 years old. There are many beachside cafes along the beach where one can have meals. In the evening they play music and one can dance.

My fourth day I took the train to Colombo. The tracks are right on the edge of the coast--almost in the water. I then took another train to Kandy. In Kandy I walked up to the Big Budda Statue, walked around the lake and saw the monkeys and took in a one hour culture show that included fire dancers.

My fifth day I took a tour with a driver and guide and visited another spice market and had a chance to ride an elephant. That evening I visited the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy.

Day six I took the train to Nuwara Eliya. It is best to book this train a day or two ahead as second class was sold out. The five hour ride goes through the mountains and through the tea plantations. Nuwara Eliya is at 6,000 feet so bring a jacket.

Day seven I was on a tour to Horton Plains National Park. I did the 6 mile hike but only saw a few monkeys. There were some beautiful views and waterfalls.

Day eight I took the bus from Nuwara Eliya down to Ella. Because the train station is not in Nuwara Eliya, I decided to use the bus. I hiked up Little Adams Peak and walked along the train track to the smaller waterfall. Eventually I got in the waterfall for a nice clean rinse.

Day nine I took three different buses to Pottuvil on the East coast. I then took a tok tok down to Arugam Bay. This is the surfers and sports enthusiast capital of Sri Lanka.

Day ten I took the bus up to Batticaloa. There isn’t much there but the town has a lot of potential. I took a tok tok to the beach and no one was there on a Saturday except a few fishermen sleeping on the beach. It was nice to be able to purchase a cup of coffee at the bus station for about 15 cents in a glass cup.

Day eleven I took the bus to Sigiriya, a World Heritage Site since 1982. I climbed the rock and then got a pool pass at a local hotel and had dinner there.

Day twelve I took the bus from Sigiriya to Colombo and then up to Negombo so I would be close to the airport for my departure on day fourteen.

Day thirteen I ate something that made me sick and spent most of my time in bed.

My travel dates were from September 18 to October 10. I only booked the first three nights ahead and never had a problem finding a hotel on my first try. I paid between $10 and $22 a night for the hotels. They were clean but occasionally I had to ask for a towel. A few didn’t have air-conditioning or hot water. When I had a fan in the room I would do laundry in the sink and it was dry the next morning.

I got lucky with the weather. No rain in Singapore or the Maldives. In Sri Lanka it rained one evening in Kandy and sprinkled the next morning.

The food could have been a little better. I’m not into curries, but often the meat was overcooked. I missed my salads for lunch. Several times I ordered chicken with rice and had chicken bones with rice. But many times they got it right.

The people in Sri Lanka are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Everyone seemed to speak English and quite quickly. Everyone would ask me when I was from. I never felt unsafe.

I used Sri Lanka Airlines from Singapore. The lunch included wine in economy and real tableware--not plastic. The A330 aircraft had individual seatback entertainment with a nice selection of movies.

Every other day I would go to the bank and withdraw $115 in USD. I never used my credit card while in Sri Lanka. For two weeks in Sri Lanka, I spent about $800.

One can ride the bus for most of the day and spend only $3. Besides the driver, there is a ticket seller on the bus which was helpful when you really don’t know when to get off. However, most buses are not air conditioned. Sitting next to the open window, my white shirt was dirty and so was my ear next to the window. On one bus I had to stand for an hour next to the back door which never closes. I really enjoyed watching the families getting on the bus, the women in their native dress and the vendors walking through the bus selling food and the different religions. Now why can’t our Congress get along this well?

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