Guide to the Most Amazing Places in SRI LANKA

My three-week visit to the Island of Sri Lanka was a mesmerizing experience: The historic remains, the preserved natural richness, the white beaches, and colorful traditional attires were pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul.

Mihintale, an amazing place in Sri Lanka
One of Sri Lanka’s most sacred places: Aradhana Gala where Buddhist monk Mahinda landed as he met with King Devanampiyatissa.

Let this guide take you to some of the most amazing places this beautiful country has to offer.

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to ANURADHAPURA and MIHINTALE

So I’m in Anuradhapura. Anu… what? Read my lips: Anuradhapura. It looks like this….

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Anuradhapure Sri Lanka
 
View of two Stupas – Thuparamaya and Ruwanwelisaya – across lake Thissa Wewa

…and is one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals. Although it’s also famous for its ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization, there are pleasingly few tourists around, but huge numbers of truly faithful.

 
O come, all ye faithful, joyful, and triumphant….to the Abhayagiri Dagaba in the northern part of Anuradhapura.

I feel like I just fell into a different, totally fascinating world.

Why are they so few tourists – and why am I here? Well, I assume most people combine the cultural part and the beach life and therefore choose the ancient places that are closer to the beach destinations. Anuradhapura is relatively far up north – it took me about five hours by train getting here from Sri Lanka’s present capital Colombo. And I picked this place since friends of mine who know the country like the back of their hand recommended it for a good start. I guess they were right.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Colombo Sri Lanka

But actually, the best part so far was the train ride itself. It was like in the movies. I felt so out of place like hardly ever before; and I loved it, for it proved that the world is still not that globalized, that there are still particularities in people’s everyday life and not everybody is wearing clothes by H&M and Uniqlo.

 
I assume that the Sri Lankan definition of full differs from mine.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Colombo Fort Train Station Sri Lanka

So I bought a ridiculously cheap train ticket. Since I still had time, I inquired for another train ticket for next week – which took forever. However, when I finally strolled towards my train – about half an hour before the scheduled departure – I found the wagons full. Full in the sense of packed with people like your local subway at rush hour. Not only all the seats were taken, it was also difficult to find a place to stand. This moment I – firstly – congratulated myself officially for travelling with a hand luggage-sized suitcase and – secondly – understood that a train ride in Sri Lanka is nothing like those in Malaysia or Thailand, let alone European countries. You don’t just sit down in your reserved seat, lean back and open your notebook, connecting it to the complimentary Wifi.

 
And I thought I had so much time to get to my seat; only that I didn’t have one.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Colombo Fort Train Station Sri Lanka

Already while I was a bit desperately searching for a seat, I saw tiny old ladies eating curry and rice from packs made of newspaper. Of course, they ate with their fingers. Eventually, they rinsed them with water they collected in the train’s bathroom sink. All the older people were dressed in traditional attires like sarongs for the gents and saris for the ladies.

 
Some of my favorite travel companions.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Train to Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

I don’t know how I managed to find a free spot on a bench in third class. You think I’m cheap and bought a third class ticket? No way, but what good is a second class ticket when there are no seats available? So third class bench for me. Which turned out to be just an amazing seat. Super-uncomfortable, but what a spectacle before my eyes! You know that they are always raving about these scenic train rides in Sri Lanka from Kandy to Ella?! Well, the truly scenic is not outside the train, the best scenes are happening inside.

 
Yes, the world outside is beautiful, but the true magic happens in the train.

There are extended families squeezed on the benches, eating their homemade curries from paper bags or plastic bowls or peeling fruits. They don’t have to worry about replenishment: At every stop – and we had our share of stops alright – there are hawkers entering the train, squeezing themselves mercilessly through the crowds, yelling what their delicacies are. To make it a teeny bit easier for everybody, they balance the baskets and buckets on their heads. They have deliciously smelling little fritters – that made me drool, however, I didn’t dare to buy them on my first day; but get ready, gut, your time will come. Even an unspectacular fruit like an apple becomes an exotic delicacy as the hawker cuts it masterfully in small pieces and sprinkles chili and salt over the snack.

The extended family sitting to my left smiles at me curiously. Everybody in Sri Lanka smiles. Genuinely. Sri Lankans seem to be very nice people. And those to my left are extra-friendly and start to share all their homemade delicacies among those sitting within reach. They particularly enjoy feeding me since each piece of food comes with an exotic name and a short explanation. I’m accepting a tiny piece of everything they have to offer, balancing curiosity, politeness, and the fear of what these treats might do to my gut; it’s my very first day, after all.

So we sit and eat and have it good and the kids are squeaking every time the train sets off with a heavy bounce and keeps rocking from side to side. I know this kind of wild ride exclusively from fairgrounds where it’s over after about five minutes. Not here, Sri Lankans are very generous when it comes to excitement.
In the dark tunnels, the kids are feigning fear which gives them a valid reason for screaming like crazy.
To them, it’s all a big adventure.

To me, too!

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.

 

I chose Anuradhapura as my first stop for my Sri Lanka trip.

Faithful rushing to the Abayagiri Dagaba in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka
These kids can’t wait to get to the Abayagiri Dagaba, one of the most sacred places in Anuradhapura.

Why? Because my friend Claudia told me so – and she has been to Sri Lanka many times and thought it would be a good point to start.

Was she right? Do I agree?
Well, for those who are really into history and Buddhism and archeological sites, Anuradhapura is certainly not to be missed.

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to POLONNARUWA

Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. I must say that due to their length, these Sri Lankan names are very twitter-unfriendly.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Bright lights, big city? Well, not here.

Apart from the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, Polonnaruwa consists of the monumental ruins of the garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.

Just like the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, it was inscribed in the UNESCO-list of  World Heritage Sites in 1982.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
One of the greatest masterpieces on the  site: The Buddhas of Gal Vihara.

And I like it much better – due to three reasons:

Firstly, it’s smaller and more compact and overseeable. The archeological site covers basically two areas, a long one in the north and a small spot in the south. Therefore, once you get there, you can peacefully cycle from ruin to ruin. When you are wearing shorts or a sleeveless top, you cover up with a sarong or a shawl, you take off your hat and your shoes and you are good to go for an inspiring visit.

In general, they are super-strict with these rules. As soon as they spot someone not dressing appropriately, they call that person out. And if you don’t have anything to cover, you wait outside; simple as that.

However, I don’t get why they don’t make a business of this – like they do for instance in Bali: At every temple, there is someone waiting, ready to sell you a sarong so you can enter. Actually a win-win-situation for both sides – but here, they don’t do it.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Sadly, some people don’t get the message even if they are standing just two feet away.

Once you’re done, you put on your shoes, take off the sarong – what a relief that is in the hellish heat – and off you cycle to the next spot. Perfect.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
The Vatadage, a fine example of a relic house. 

Not only did I keep losing my way in Anuradhapura – which was totally on me and my lousy sense of orientation and a bit on google maps that spotted me somewhere within a radius of about two square miles, not as helpful as desired. It’s also far more tiring visiting the site by bike since they are so far from each other.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Only cycling allows you to spot all the tiny treasures along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, I like big cities. But when they are big, they have to feel big. There has to be a central square, shops, maybe a small mall, cafés, and restaurants. A metropolis. Not unpleasant streets and extended dirt roads.

And that brings me to the second reason why I prefer Polonnaruwa, and this one is totally unfair: Anuradhapura was my first stop. And although I didn’t really have a culture shock and cycled crisscross town from the first minute, I needed to grasp the concept of what is a city in Sri Lanka.

The same thing happened to me before, for instance in Los Angeles. I’m totally European, so a city to me has to have – like I pointed out above – some sort of clear nucleus, a point of orientation, a center. What’s considered the old center in Los Angeles is the dullest neighborhood of the entire city. Therefore I didn’t like it, I found that confusing. Once I grasped their concept of a city, I was fine and able to adapt – and to enjoy.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
And a great farmers market is an important asset to a great city.

So that Anuradhapura didn’t feel like a city to me got me a bit irritated.
When I came to Polonnaruwa, this concept wasn’t new to me anymore and didn’t put me off.

The third reason why I prefer Polonnaruwa over Anuradhapura has not really to do with the cities but with the accommodation I chose: Instead of booking myself in a middle-class hotel, I made a reservation at the Sun Guest House*, a four-room accommodation run by a charming middle-aged man who was already as sweet as can be via WhatsApp before I’d even arrived.
Although his house is practically in the city center, it is right next to rice paddies – remember: Different concept of cities in Sri Lanka.
The rooms are certainly not luxurious, but they are spotlessly clean and you find everything you need. And if there actually should be something you’re missing, the owner Sumith goes out of his way to arrange it for you.

It reminded me a bit of my trip to Cuba where I used to stay in Casas Particulares, nothing but a different name for homestay, and also of my trip to Croatia last summer where I mostly rented privately owned Apartman.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
After he arranged all these delicacies on the table, Sumith told me the name of each dish and explained what it was. Somehow the food became even more savory.

If I hadn’t been a great fan of homestays, anyway, the dinner Sumith’s wife prepared for me would convince me to never book a standard hotel room again.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Sunset over lake Parakrama Samudra – why should the name of lakes be shorter than the city names?! – without the elephants, I was so hoping for; but beautiful just the same.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here is the first Memo from SRI LANKA:

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura


If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka



Disclaimer: I appreciate that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is supporting my blogger trip by supplying me with tickets to some of the main landmarks like e.g. the Archeological Site of Polonnaruwa. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 

* I paid for my stay at the Sun Guest House their standard price, so this recommendation comes truly from the heart. However, if you book using this link, I’ll get a small commission from booking.com – I wouldn’t take a small commission from these lovely people who make a living from their small guest house.

Polonnaruwa was not only the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, but it was also my second stop on the trip through Sri Lanka.

Statue of King Parakramabahu I in Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka

Welcome to the Kingdom of  King Parakramabahu I

And although it is – just like Anuradhapura – divided into a modern, busy New Town and what remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom, I felt much more comfortable here and enjoyed cycling criss-cross on the historic trails. Probably though, because Polonnaruwa is smaller and more overseeable – also for a person without any sense of orientation whatsoever. And most certainly because I stayed with the most welcoming and friendliest host. Ever!

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to SIGIRIYA and a daytrip to DAMBULLA

With titles like this, I will never make it to the top of the blogger billboard charts, I know. But it’s simply too tempting

Another day, another place, another homestay.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka
It’s at the back of beyond, but there sure is a beautiful view.

Sigiriya is probably the most famous and iconic landmark in Sri Lanka, and while Sigiriya is also a town, it’s mainly small houses scattered in a jungle-ish area, and I think I unerringly picked the most remote one. However, I was rocking it there – big time!

Bargaining with the driver over the price, coaxing him to take me not to the city center but straight to the guesthouse, I knew the ride would be longer than he thought. And yes, he had to call the landlord twice to be guided over the phone into the….middle of nowhere.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka
Somewhere down there, left from the Pidurangala rock is my guest house.

Staying in the middle of nowhere, between bushes and banana trees, rice paddies and rhododendron drives me nuts.
I feel trapped.
I cannot go anywhere without a member – notably the husband – of my host family taking me there.

But since on this trip, I resolved to stick to my blog’s title, i. e. saying bye to myself….at least to some of the pretty annoying parts of me, I sit down and lean back and breath in two three four, and out two three four; and hey, why not just sitting on a verandah in a chair and watch the grass and the rice grow for two days?!

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya  Sri Lanka
The guest house and the yard.

Yes, I resolved to be much more patient – with people, the world, and myself.
Not freaking out when things are not working out my way.
Not flipping out when things are taking longer.
Not snapping when people don’t get me right away.
Accepting delays.
Accepting shortages.
Phew, I have a lot on my plate on this trip. But actually, it’s working out quite well. Let’s see if I can leave some of my terrible impatience behind. Maybe some Sri Lankan can pick it up and use is – there’s still plenty left.

Besides feeling a bit trapped out here in the wilderness, I really get the hang of this homestay-thing. I mainly travel to experience a place, the average, unspectacular everyday-life. While I enjoy visiting landmarks and museums or hanging out on the beach, I absolutely love to walk around in supermarkets and drugstores and, of course, farmers markets and just look at things local people buy. And I appreciate this intimate glimpse that I get when staying with a local family. Even the smaller guesthouses like e. g. Samith’s place in Polonnaruwa are built next to the host’s private quarters so that you always get a peek into their privacy.
While in Europe or the US I do enjoy staying in a luxurious hotel room, here it would keep me too far from what I came here for: Sri Lanka; pure Sri Lanka.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Dambulla  Sri Lanka
Being in a mostly Buddhist surrounding should make me quite ?.

Another quirk I conquered successfully is my acrophobia – which is a fancy word for pooping my pants as soon as I stand more than three feet above the floor.

I didn’t come to Sigiriya to stay in the jungle, after all. I came here for the same reason everybody does: Climbing the majestic Lion Rock.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka
Today, there are only the lion’s paws left.

In total, you have to climb about 1,200 stairs. While others might be intimidated by this figure, I was terrified by the fact that the stairs are going up. Actually, it probably would scare me less to get down to hell on 1,200 stairs than up: I’m very afraid of heights. And just as any other phobia, it’s purely psychologic – and there shouldn’t be logic in this world: I know that I will not fall down. I see dozens of people going up and nothing happens to them, so why should I die?!

To pay the mysterious cloud maidens a visit in their cave, you have to make a little detour and break an extra-sweat.
(Photo: SchnobbySigiriya, Wolkenmädchen 3CC BY-SA 3.0


So I started to climb these stairs and after about twelve steps, I turned and went back down. I felt like an idiot. I was about to miss the best part because of some totally illogical fear. Come on, you wimp, you can do it! So I did it…breathing in two three four, and out two three four.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka
The queen of the hill posing in front of the Pidurangala rock.

Funny thing is, since I was so focused on surviving those stupid stairs, I actually did breathe very regularly so that once on top of the rock, I was far less winded than most of the other people.

So what’s next? Skydiving?

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is making me a better and braver person.

Oh, and by the way: Third spot of my trip, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I guess this tells you a little bit about Sri Lanka; and probably also a little bit about me.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos:

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa


If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Sigiriya Lion Rock Sri Lanka



Disclaimer: I appreciate that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is supporting my blogger trip by supplying me with tickets to some of the main landmarks like e.g. the Lion Rock in Sigiriya. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 

Dambulla is much bigger and a real city and Sri Lanka’s center of the vegetable distribution. However, Sigiriya is far more famous. It literally rocks.

Lions Rock in Sigiriya - Dambulla - Lionrock - Cave Temple - Sri Lanka - Asia

In the old times, you were entering the complex through the lion’s jaws. Today, only his paws are left.

It rocks because there is the almost 200 meters high Lion Rock. And the rock band – pun intended – shot some of the scenes from the music video Save a Prayer at the top.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to KANDY and a Temple Hike from Embekke to Pilimathalawa

Kandy – geographically and metaphorically Sri Lanka’s navel: Everybody comes here, some people even straight from the airport.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Lake Sri Lanka
One of the nicest views of Kandy – and I didn’t even have to climb on some mountain for it.

After three days in Kandy, I ask myself: Why?

Yes, there is the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Whereby, don’t expect the tooth to be actually on display. It is hidden in a couple of precious boxes and three different people have to unlock them simultaneously.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Temple Sacred Tooth Relic Lanka
The devotees are waiting in line for leaving their flowers, the tourists for taking their pictures. 

So while to the faithful Buddhists, the Sri Dalada Maligawa is certainly a big deal, to all the other visitors it’s really rather a chimera. The building itself might not be that breathtaking from the outside, but much more artful once you enter.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Temple Sacred Tooth Relic Lanka
The stairs to the upper floor where there is the relic chamber, the library, and more sacred places.

What’s really neat is the World Buddhist Museum next door. On two floors, you can admire – and compare – artifacts from countries where Buddhist faith prevails. I enjoyed that a lot.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy World Buddhist Museum Sri Lanka
This Buddha statue in front of the World Buddhist Museum is a contribution from Japan.

Like I said, although in other places I’ve visited in Sri Lanka there was much more to see, busloads of tourists are carted here to push through the temple and eventually enjoy a Kandy dance show.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Dance Sri Lanka
Although it’s a show for tourists, the costumes, instruments, and dances are real – I saw the same attire at a wedding in Anuradhapura.

In between, there is enough time to get screwed over by one of the tuk-tuk drivers or touts. That’s the most annoying thing in Kandy – that obviously comes with mass tourism, with all these people that don’t take their time to actually go with the Sri Lankan flow. That way, they develop no feel for situations and are suspicious and paranoid – and often sadly for a reason.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Sri Lanka
Tuk-tuk-drivers are a pretty shrewd breed of their own – to say the least.

After having seen the for non-Buddhist not so impressive Temple, after having made my way up to the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue – not on purpose, I lost my way in an uphill direction; one day I’ll write a post on my non-existent sense of orientation – after having awed at the exotic trees and the incredible amount of flying foxes at the botanic garden and enjoyed the Kandy dancers dancing, it was time for an extra-share of real life.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Botanic Garden Sri Lanka
One of the most fascinating parts at the Botanic Garden is Cook’s Pine Avenue with pines putting the Tower of Pisa to shame.

I decided on experiencing the country life and hiking to three different temples, starting at Embekke village. Knowing that I would walk a lot, I took a tuk-tuk to the bus station and regretted my decision within about 90 seconds. The fact that I intended to hike was, of course, unacceptable, that would be very difficult. Anyway, I should go see the botanic garden, the tea farm, the Buddha statue, the…. I explained relatively friendly that I had already seen all this and that hiking was totally my thing. I explained it relatively friendly the first five times. That I began my sixth denial with the words I think I made myself clear was already relatively unfriendly; but not unfriendly enough since he kept convincing me – until I told him to let me get off the tuk-tuk at the next corner.
That finally shut him up and we made it to the bus station where we actually parted as friends.

For me, taking public transportation is part of the fun: I love observing all the different people on the bus, the elegant old ladies in their colorful saris sitting next to the young professionals. Giggling teenage girls getting up from the first row as a trio of monks enters the bus. I’m eying them as they are eying me – and then we give each other a big smile.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Bus Sri Lanka
A ride on the public bus sets you back about 15 to 25 cents.

Since tuk-tuks are actually pretty cheap, even backpackers usually don’t take the buses – at least not short distance. Therefore people are looking at me with the same curiosity I’m looking at them.

Walking from the village of Embekke, I got to the unexpectedly atmospheric Embekke Devalaya, the local Temple, in a couple of minutes.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Embekke Sri Lanka
You could hear the drummers playing at the ceremony at the Embekke Temple already from far.

From there to the Lankathilaka Temple it’s quite a hike, especially since I got to Embekke around noon. But walking along the villages’ main roads is so distracting that I forget the sun burning mercilessly my head and the sweat pouring down my spine.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Embekke Sri Lanka
It wasn’t really necessary to stock up on water for my walk: There were many little shops like this one along the way.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
Getting some bananas as a refreshment before the longest part from Lankathilaka to Gadaladeniya.

There are far too many kids of all ages to be greeted: First it’s at least one hello, then I answer either what my name is or which country I’m from, followed by an extended waving and calling of bye-byes.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
You know like you’re always supposed to ask before you take someone’s picture? Well, on my hike from Embekke to Pilimathalawa, kids of all ages asked me to take their picture. I’ve never regretted so much not having a Polaroid camera.

There is a dense jungle on both sides of the road, sprinkled with a tiny house here and there. Cicadas and birds are filling the air with their chants, from time to time, something scurries through the underwood. It’s so idyllic and peaceful; and so hot.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
Filling my heart and soul.

As I reach the main road from where the bus takes me back to Kandy, I’m really exhausted.

However, I feel so happy and independent and like rubbing shoulders with pure life.

It was the nicest thing I’ve done in Sri Lanka so far.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos:

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya


If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Sri Lanka



Disclaimer: I appreciate that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is supporting my blogger trip by arranging a complimentary guided tour through the Sri Dalada Maligawa and the World Buddhist Museum. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 

Kandy is on every Sri Lanka-visitor’s list – at least on a day trip. Many travellers are even coming here more or less straight from the airport.

Lake in the center of Kandy

Perfect point of orientation is the centrally located Kiri Muhuda lake.

Honestly, I didn’t really get why. And even doing some additional online-research for this post proved me right: It is almost hysterically overrated.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

The Highlands: Guide to NUWARA ELIYA and HAPUTALE

You can plan and organize basically everything. Everything but the weather.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tea Plantation Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka
Pedro Tea Estate in Nuwara Eliya. The clouds to the right turned out to be really mean.

While I was soaking in the dreamy landscape around Nuwara Eliya, the rolling hills covered with tea bushes, the skies opened and within minutes, everything was….soaked.

Although my landlady meant well, the info that for twee weeks there hadn’t been one drop of rain wasn’t of that much comfort.

For a short moment, I was even thinking about leaving one day earlier – but my landlady had washed all of my clothes; God knows how they were supposed to dry in this humidity. Because everything felt damp, even things that I had kept in my suitcase. The humidity was crawling into each and every corner of the house.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka
Being the only guest on the terrace – obviously.

Plus, the fantastic surroundings are inviting you to go out of town – to experience some unexpected adventures.

So the next day, while there still was a light drizzle here and there, I was able to leave the house and decided to go on a trip to the even higher highlands, namely to the town of Haputale.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka
The bus station in Nuwara Eliya in the early morning. 

This trip turned out to be far more exciting than expected.
I wrote in a former post about my ambivalent relationship with bus drivers, aka the Kings of the Road. Well, this one was definitely one of the most ruthless representatives of all the drivers in the world.

We were going through the highlands, to be clear: a mountainous region. There were bends and very narrow curves. Which he enjoyed taking with the highest speed – I kid you not, the bus was actually leaning to the sides like a motorcycle. I’m not sure if we didn’t go on only two wheels from time to time. People were literally sliding from the benches, catching their fall in the very last moment.
The King didn’t care. He honked the horn and overtook three lorries in one go. Only another bus, frontally approaching us with a similar speed, forced him back into the correct lane.

I understood perfectly well why the Italian father, pressing his little daughter tight to his chest, whispered with relief to his wife that held a toddler Ancora nove chilometri – Only nine kilometers left.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Tea Plantation Haputale Sri Lanka
Haputale’s surrounding to the north….
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Tea Plantation Haputale Sri Lanka
…and to the south.

Hence, to get back to Nuwara Eliya after a nice snack and about a thousand pictures of the breathtaking sceneries around Haputale, I opted for the train.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Haputale Sri Lanka
I guess even walking on the rails is less dangerous than walking on the side of the road.

Don’t miss out on my upcoming travel guide to Sri Lanka where I will tell you about this option of seeing the iconic tea plantations – because the trains that everybody else is taking are permanently sold out which doesn’t hold the train company back from selling further tickets to everyone who asks for them.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Haputale Sri Lanka
Looking from the not so packed local train on the completely full train tourists like to take.

Therefore, those trains are packed to the rim. It must be a quite unpleasant experience, so make sure to check out my sneaky tip.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Train Sri Lanka
So I have my beautiful Sri Lankan train picture after all!

Some last words about Sri Lankan drivers.
Here the Kings of the Road actually come with an entourage: There are always two to three guys standing in the permanently open front door, assisting his majesty.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Bus Sri Lanka
While the buses from private companies are lavishly decorated,….
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Bus Sri Lanka
….those owned by the government are rather austere.

In the early morning, before the first tour, they burn some joss sticks in front of the little Buddha on the dashboard and replace yesterday’s flowers by fresh ones. Then, they turn the music on to the max – don’t bother to bring your own music and your headphones, you’ll have no chance.
But actually, theirs is a pretty nice soundtrack, accentuating the beautiful and exotic scenarios you witness from your passenger’s seat.

Once the entourage has finished the preparation, the King takes place.
This King is wearing flip-flops.
Immediately, I’m thinking of Sheldon Cooper saying to Penny I don’t want to be another flip-flop fatality.
Well, neither do I, but I assume that the King didn’t see this particular episode and I doubt that he would be very open to my sensible footwear suggestions.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Tuk-tuk Nuware Eliya Sri Lanka
This memento mori is so true. I’m just not too optimistic that the driver remembers as soon as his motor is running.

The entourage collects money from the passengers. Then they hand the King some water and little treats made from some white powder rolled into a betel nut leave that my landlady claims is not a drug but a tradition.

At the next stop, a gentleman manhandles huge bags full of vegetables to one of the King’s flunkeys. The underling arranges them around the King’s seat.
But don’t think they are careless – no, safety first, they actually tie the bags with pieces of rope to the grid surrounding the driver’s seat.
The gentleman himself is not joining us. Before we take off, he hands the guy a big bundle of leeks that this one places on the rack on top of me.
The leek leaks.
Some drops of water and a tiny bug fall on my leg.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Bus Sri Lanka
All sort of goods and luggage arranged around the driver.

As we pass a Hindu temple, one of the helpers takes off his woolen hat, steps down, donates some coins and asks for a blessing. Back on the bus, he puts his hat back on and the King accelerates even more – since now we should be good.
Just to be sure, the helper gets also off at a Buddhist shrine and pleads for mercy here, too.

A couple of villages further, another gentleman hands the King through the open window some very interesting looking goods: It’s bowls made of clay, covered with some paper lid.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Bus Sri Lanka
Here you have it all: The curd-towers, Buddha’s flowers – and Buddha himself. The plastic bags contain vegetables that we eventually dropped off at the market.

The gentleman keeps handing the King neatly tied towers of bowls and he forwards them with a certain disdain to the helper who stores them thoroughly under the first rows of seats.
As he’s done, we wave bye bye to the gentleman and off we go.
There are many small stands on both sides of the road with the same clay bowls – and the signs next to them advertise for Curd. Uh-huh.

The fleet – here at the bus depot in Dambulla. The government operated buses are red – like the one to the very right.

You see, taking the bus in Sri Lanka is not only getting from A to B.
It’s learning new tricks.
It’s watching marvelous scenarios.
It’s riding a roller coaster.

And it’s also a bit looking death in the eye.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Tuk-tuk Sri Lanka
I wonder whether the winged skulls should tell you a bit about the owner’s driving.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos: 

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion


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bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels:  Tea Plantation Nuware Eliya Sri Lanka


In Asia, each of the colonial powers – be it the British or the French – installed a refuge for themselves in the highlands. There, they found a milder, cooler climate and fertile soil to grow for instance tea.

Tea Plantation in Nureliya - Haputale - Tea Plantations - Sri Lanka - Asia

Gardens and plantations dominate Nureliya’s sceneries.

In Sri Lanka, this place is Nuwara Eliya – and you really cannot blame the British that they fell in love with this earthly Garden Eden.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to UDAWALAWE

Sri Lanka has so much to offer – they even have Safaris. The only kind of shootin’ is with your camera, of course.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Solitary elephant taking a foot bath.

Although the most popular Safari-site is Yalla, the national park of Udawalawe doesn’t offer only the far cooler name, it grants also a much more idyllic and intimate experience – mainly with elephants, that are not in the room since they are roaming practically everywhere.

In Udawalawe, everything is elephant-themed: Many hotels have something elephant-ish in their name and for certain in their logo.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Even towels come instead as swans in the shape of elephants.

And it’s the elephants that attract all the travellers that do not want to go in a convoy across the far more known and popular natural reserve Yalla in the south-east of Sri Lanka.
Me, too, I opted for a more tranquil visit to the pachyderms and came to Udawalawe for one day.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Very tasteful design with a dash of jungle.

Staying at a very charming, tastefully decorated hotel pretty far from the town center and pretty close to the park’s entrance, I spent the afternoon cycling. My accommodation, the Royal Tusker Hotel*, rents bikes to their guests for free, which is a great service.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
A sugarcane field. They are actually also making rum in Sri Lanka.

Cycling on the road where all these maniacs are speeding and overtaking like there’s no tomorrow would be like Russian roulette.
But behind the hotel are huge sugarcane fields and that’s where I went.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Baby elephants being fed milk through a funnel…..
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
….and practicing how to feast on leaves.

After a short visit to the elephant orphanage to watch the babies being fed milk from long funnel, it was time to go to sleep: Pick up for next day’s safari was scheduled for 5.30 a. m.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Then they go to sleep – and so do I.

The safari – what can I say?! It was a wonderful experience.
Admittedly, it starts a bit annoying: You get up at 5 a. m., the jeep picks you up at 5.40 as agreed. You get to the park entrance at 5.55 – where there are already many jeeps in front of you and many more to come; and there you wait forever for the park to open the gate, the guards letting jeeps pass, the drivers buying your ticket and so on.
If only this process was as fast as Sri Lankan bus drivers….

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
You rather be as Zen as Buddha or else you freak out over the check-in process.

Smart vendors walk along the line of jeeps, offering coffee and snacks.
I was very lucky that the lovely people at the Royal Tusker Hotel* had packed me very juicy and tasty club sandwiches along with a variety of tropical fruits; what a treat that was in the wee hours at the park entrance.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Picking a good tour operator is key.

But once the driver has the tickets and you went to the bathroom the last time, off you go into the wilderness. It’s beautiful, the trees and bushes in the early morning sunlight – so peaceful. Also because first, every jeep goes into a different direction, you are not going in a convoy from tree to tree.
At least our jeep didn’t.
But I must also say, that we – me and Adrianna and David, an English-Australian couple, were extremely lucky with our driver and especially with our guide Ruwan.
We were lucky to have a driver and a guide in the first place.
Many other jeeps had only the driver sitting, obviously, in the driver’s seat in the cabin while the guests were outside on the high observation seats.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Green on green – thanks to our amazing guide, even I saw these bee-eaters.

I wonder how the driver was able to point out, explain, and answer their questions; and how he was able to spot something with his eyes on the road. Since there are, obviously, just dust roads – worn from the wheels and probably rains and extremely bumpy – eyes on the road is crucial.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
A pigeon. Those in Europe are much less fancy.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Waterbird in a yoga pose.

So for eyes on the road, we had a very friendly and cautious driver, and for eyes literally everywhere else we had Ruwan.

This man must have been an eagle in his former life; and eagles were not the only birds he pointed out to us.
He saw all these birds, no matter how tiny, before everyone else – and was able to tell their names, explain in which state of molt they were by the color of their feathers.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Talking ’bout color of feathers…..there is a large number of peacocks at the park.

This man puts Dr. Doolittle to shame!
He showed us the most incredible nests and explained exactly how they were built.
All this in a great, perfectly understandable English.

He impressed me the most by making the driver back up to a tree we had passed: between the brownish-grey branches was a brownish-grey lizard, maybe six inches long; Ruwan had spotted him….literally by the way!

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Here, I, obviously, zoomed in. From afar, this fellow looks like a branch.

Since I’m no eagle-eye and look around in nature pretty much like a blind woman, Ruwan was so patient and pointed a dozen times at the same spot.
Eventually, he took my camera, zoomed in, showed me on the picture where the huge bird’s nest was – and voilà, now even I saw it way up there in the crown of the highest tree.
Super-nice and super-ingenious.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
First, he was not that easy to spot way up high between the branches.

I assume without this man, I would have seen a beautiful landscape with many trees, something flying around….and possibly an elephant, since they are not that difficult to spot.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
The scenery is amazing – with or without creatures big and small.

Of course, we saw elephants, but also buffalos, deer, crocodiles and much more. And I’m sure that thanks to Ruwan we saw probably triple of what the other visitors spotted.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Male elephants prefer to walk alone….
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
….while females roam in groups. Here a mother with a newborn baby.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Buffaloes seem to be a quite relaxed species.

Of course, it’s possible to hire just the next jeep that comes your way. And maybe you even save a dollar or two. But your experience will never be like ours.
Nothing works like the concept of two people focusing on their respective job.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
You are not allowed to leave the jeep for a reason.

Another point is the vehicle. Fortunately, we did not meet too often with other jeeps in one spot. But when we did, there were these cars that made so much noise that the animals chose to walk off; I don’t blame them.
So also the quality of the jeep and a more silent motor should optimize the experience.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
The elephants come really close to the jeeps – if you don’t disturb them.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
If you do, they just walk away.

I went with the fantastic people from lakpura. Not only was the communication beforehand quick, precise, and understandable. They were also very punctual and reliable – and like I said, they have the best staff to guide you around.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari
Obviously, very happy with my tour.

So if you choose to go on a safari in Udawalawe – and I urge you to do so – you should definitely check with them. You can book directly or as an Airbnb-experience.

And now, I let the pictures speak for themselves.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos: 


1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

5th Memo: Out of Nuwara Eliya


If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Udawalawe Safari


Disclaimer: I appreciate that lakpura LLC supported my blogger trip by taking me on one of their jeep tours. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. I do not get any commission from putting links to their site but do it as a service to my readers.

* I paid for my stay at the Royal Tusker Hotel their standard price, so this recommendation comes truly from the heart. However, if you book using this link, I’ll get a small commission from booking.com.

Whatever you like, you’ll find it in Sri Lanka: Whether it’s archeological sites, lush sceneries in the highlands, jungles, beaches – and animals, lots and lots of wild animals and endemic birds.

Elaphant at the Udawalawe Elephant Safari Sri Lanka

In Udawalawe, the animals let you get really close.

The best way to see these beautiful creatures practically undisturbed in their natural habitat, you go on a Safari at of the national parks. To enjoy an idyllic and intimate experience, I opted for Udawalawe – and I was not disappointed.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

MIRISSA – Beach Hopping

It wasn’t even on purpose that I neatly divided my trip into three parts: culture tour during the first week, nature trip during the second, and now it’s the final countdown on the beach.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Mirissa beach – divided by the Rock Island – an ideal photo spot.

After having been a bit disappointed by Tangalle, I chose Mirissa as my next destination. All I can say is: Well done – hence, life is a beach, after all!

Racing from one place to another, schlepping a carry-on suitcase and a daypack-sized backpack with me that seems to get heavier from day to day even though I’m disciplining myself and postpone shopping to the very last day is fun, but it’s also exhausting.

I was very much looking forward to a couple – couple in the sense of several, not just two – of days on the beach, sunbathing, reading, sleeping, and cooling off in the ocean; maybe a little snorkeling. But other than that: Nada, niente, rien du tout!

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Nice signs – but far too much activity.

There is one downside to this otherwise perfect concept: Days pass quicker, they become one long mass of time that just floats by. I wrote about this phenomenon in one of my Portugal-posts: I was there only for nine days, but since I changed my location almost daily, the trip seemed much longer. Time just flies by as you stay only in one place.

But in Mirissa, there is a perfect solution to this problem: The south coast between Mathara and Galle consists of many beaches, big and small. There are cozy little bays, difficult to reach and therefore pretty secluded. There are long spans of white powdery sand, and there are these standard beach-bed-in-front-of-beach-bar stretches of relaxed beach life.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Mirissa beach – quite a classic.

All this within reach from Mirissa. People rent scooters and off they go exploring beach after beach.

As meanwhile everybody knows, I’m not driving. And I’m not riding a scooter – between all these maniacs on Sri Lankan roads – no way, José.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Bus Sri Lanka
When it comes to buses, I’m becoming such an expert. I assume the bus driver association will make me their honorary patron. Did you notice: This bus is decorated with dandelions.

I’m a public transport gal and in Sri Lanka, I’m going by bus. If you can’t beat them, join them.

I believe I’m in danger sitting on that bus; but everybody outside the bus is the mad driver’s living target.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Waligama Beach Sri Lanka
Waligama beach in the early morning….
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Waligama Beach Sri Lanka
….when it still belongs mainly to the fishermen.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Waligama Sri Lanka
Travelling the world, I realize how over the top our European hygiene standards are. These gentlemen are selling fish by the side of the road. They are not cooled. I’ve been eating here for three weeks now – and I’m perfectly fine.

Exploring the beaches by bus is – alas! – fast and dirt cheap: Going from Mirissa to Waligama, the next beach town about four miles west, sets me back 15 cents; by private bus. The governmental is cheaper.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Coconut Beach Sri Lanka
Coconut Beach. I came here for the Stilt Fishermen…..
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Coconut Beach Sri Lanka
….who came out in the late afternoon.

From Waligama, I took a tuk-tuk to Coconut Beach – about 1,25 €uro or 1.50 $ – and I think that he screwed me a bit over, but that’s ok.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Coconut Beach Sri Lanka
While some take advantage the rough sea for surfing….
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Coconut Beach Sri Lanka
….others can enjoy a tranquil dip in a pool that mother nature built using big rocks.
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Midigama Beach Sri Lanka
Absolutely paradisiac is the stretch between Coconut Beach and Midigama Beach.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos:


1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

5th Memo: Out of Nuwara Eliya

6th Memo: Udawalawe – The Elephant in the Roam

7th Memo: Good Luck in Tangalle. It’s not so easy being an expat.



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bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka


Tangalle – another town, another homestay.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
Goyambokka – one of Tangalle’s nicer beaches.

I’m staying at a room in a lovely…yes, one could call it a mansion. My hosts are a couple from….well, he is a native Sri Lankan, she is from Ukraine, they were living together in Austria and he decided to come back to Sri Lanka due to the supposedly increasing xenophobia in Europe.

I say he decided although their wording is, of course, us. But she hates the heat and is all jealous that I’m going back to European winter in a couple of days.
She doesn’t like the beach – and is living now in one of Sri Lanka’s most popular beach destinations.
She doesn’t seem to be happy.
He neither, for that matter.
He hasn’t been living here for over twenty years. I assume that he has been back as a visitor, but now he wants to have a business here and seems pretty disenchanted and stressed out after only three months.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
It’s easier if you like the beach – when you move to a beach area.

If you aren’t mindlessly euphoric in the very beginning, when do you plan to become mindlessly euphoric?!
I really wish them well, but I’m afraid that many hard, stressful, and disenchanting times lie ahead of them.

I also wanted to live in the tropics for a long time. When I first visited Jamaica at the age of 24, the way of life took me by storm. Yes, I admit it, also my first Jamaican boyfriend took me by storm.
But it was mainly the rhythm of reggae, the beach life, the easy-going no problem, mon, irie-i.
My European life seemed so dull and grey and out of rhythm.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Negril Jamaica
It’s beautiful, but it’s not everything that Jamaica is about.

I travelled back and forth for a couple of years, constantly checking out my chances, got into a mess and dropped my Jamaica-plans for good.

However, after that, I felt a bit disrooted and hooked to the idea of living in a tropical country doing….whatever.
I applied for jobs in tourism – and actually was invited to an interview first in Basel where the headquarter was and eventually in Mombasa where that company owned half a dozen of hotels.
Now, that was a disenchanting experience: All the Europeans working there seemed to hate everything African and were constantly complaining about everything local. The woman that interviewed me literally said that they are employing rather African men since the women are not so clean. All the conversations were on this level.
Wait a minute – I wanted to move to Africa because of…Africa and not to be the bored, frustrated white massa.
This is alluring only in Graham Greene’s novels.
This job was not for me – and I was not for them.

Since about six months after my Mombasa-trip, I got pregnant, the nomad lifestyle had to be postponed; until my daughter turned two and we moved for six months to Belize.

Belize is in Central America, but it still has a certain Caribbean feel to it. The language – the Patois or Pidgin English – is pretty similar, they listen to reggae and calypso – and in addition to punta rock, a very rhythmic, staccato-like music by the Garifuna, an indigenous ethnicity that came from Saint Vincent to the shores of Central America.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Placlencia Belize
Nap at noon – we kept up the good old habits from home; only the bed is a bit more tropical.

Anyway, so I was back to the Caribbean vibes – but how different that was with a toddler and responsibility and chores.
While others lived the life that had attracted me so much to Jamaica, I stayed home watching over my daughter. Not so different from Germany; only the weather was better.

By that time I had already buried the dream of the exiting, wild, and free life in a tropical region. With a smile and no regrets at all.
It’s nice to dance nights away, enjoying drinks, fooling around, But at least to me, it’s not satisfactory on a long term, it cannot be my personal meaning of life. And I also do not want to do….whatever. Not at my age. Not with a child.

Well, the child is 26 now – I could still go. But I’m not interested at all anymore.
A sabbatical – maybe.
But waiting tables just because the sun is shining?
For now, it comes down to a couple of trips every year.

Another reason is also that while I was living for months in Central America – after six months in Belize we also spent many months in Honduras and three months in Costa Rica – I’ve seen so many expats being pretty unhappy.

They all had started with these really good ideas, some even had money to invest, some struggled a bit. After a couple of months, they always got frustrated. Because things are much more complicated. Because they got screwed over by their what they thought good local friends. Many of them backed away, lived in an expat ghetto, threw themselves on each long term traveller like me – a person that carries a bit of their former life with her.
What’s the point of living isolated in a place where I slowly start to hate everything and distrust everybody?

Many of them had a heavy drinking problem – which is unfortunate since many ran bars.

By no means do I say that this has to happen to everyone. It also strongly depends on your expectations and plans. If a twenty-something goes for a couple of month to the Caribbean and works at a bar just for the fun of it – great idea! If a teacher or doctor is sent to work and help in another country – fantastic.

But if you leave your life behind to open a business in a country where you’ll always be an alien – and be treated accordingly…..well, I really wish them well.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
There definitely are things to enjoy.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos: 

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

5th Memo: Out of Nuwara Eliya

6th Memo: Udawalawe – The Elephant in the Roam


If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka


I know: It is very tempting to just stay in one place and enjoy the ‘dolce far niente’ – especially after weeks of roaming the island.

Stilfisher in Mirissa

The famous stilt fishermen waiting for a catch close to Coconut Beach in Weligama.

But why not doing nothing – but each day in another breathtakingly beautiful place? Beaches around Mirissa can be easily reached by bus, tuk-tuk, or a rented scooter – and every single of them is totally worth the “effort” of beach hopping.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to GALLE

A colonial mansion in the walled old town of Galle, built first in 16th century by the Portuguese and eventually fortified by the Dutch colonialist during the 17th century.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Dark wooden windows in contrast to the white-washed walls.

One of these typical houses – white-washed and with windows and doors of dark wood.
Not so long ago, they still used to be shiny, but the sun here is merciless and the salty air from the ocean pulls its weight, too.
Therefore the wood, still intact, deems a bit weathered.

In the entrance hall of house No 62, there are a Chinese chaise longue and two wicker chairs. A faint aroma of durian is lingering through the air. Even though this smell does not please everyone’s olfactory sense, here it just takes the Asian-colonial appearance to a state of perfection.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Durian Galle Fort Sri Lanka
The aroma of Durian welcomes you to Asia.

The room’s most prominent feature is a huge chandelier hanging above a small coffee table in the very center of the room.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
The minimalist antechamber.

One of the doors opens and Asheni, a middle-aged woman in a modest cotton saree enters the room, holding a wet rag. She cannot even remember how long she has been working for the Suwaris, one of the Muslim families that settled in Galle’s old part generations ago.

Chirp chirp.

What was that? Asheni looks around. Are her ears fooling her?

Chirp chirp.

There it was again. Not loud, but clear. Asheni looks around, searching.

Chirp chirp.

Slowly, she’s getting annoyed. She can clearly hear something chirping – and there is practically nowhere a creature of critter could hide in this minimalist furnished room.

Chirp chirp.

Asheni takes another look around – and now she spots a bundle between the brass arms of the chandelier.
When did this filth get there?

She looks closer.
The bundle looks like a bowl.

And now Asheni realizes that it’s not dirt, it’s a nest! It’s some bird’s home!

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Asheni pulls one of the wicker chairs closer to the coffee table and carefully climbs on it, grabbing her saree with one hand, making sure to put her body’s weight on the wooden frame so not to break the delicate wickerwork.

Standing on the chair, Asheni peeps into the nest as close as she can. There are actually two or three baby birds in there, now chirping ferociously.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka

While Asheni is still awing at this sight, a red-vented bulbul lands on the grill above the door and looks nervously around.

Asheni gets slowly and silently down from her perch and moves gently to the opposite door. As she slinks away, the mother cocks her head, takes a last cautious look and lands elegantly on the arm next to the nest.

Her babies are craning their skinny naked necks in her direction and open their beaks, that seem far too big for their small featherless heads, in anticipation.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Expecting food to come.

The mother starts feeding them.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Dinner time for bulbuls.

Galle is a fortified city built by the Portuguese, showing the architectural interaction of colonial and traditional local styles. The Galle fort is one of Sri Lanka’s Unesco World Heritage Sites and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built during colonial times.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Entrance to the Jetwing Heritage Villa in Galle.

Galle has been the last destination on my trip to Sri Lanka and although it’s, obviously, very touristy, it still has a magical charm and room for wonders to happen.

So parts of this counts are true, other just could be. To find out which are or aren’t, I urge you to visit Galle yourself.

For obvious reason, I highly recommend to stay at the Light House Inn* where the owners are cultured, sophisticated, and very warmhearted people…..and miracles do happen.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Narrow streets at the Galle Fort.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I’m posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos:


1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P…olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

5th Memo: Out of Nuwara Eliya

6th Memo: Udawalawe – The Elephant in the Roam

7th Memo: Good Luck in Tangalle. It’s not so easy being an expat.

8th Memo: Mirissa – and life is a beach




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bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Galle Fort Sri Lanka


* Disclaimer: I paid for my stay at the Light House Inn their standard price, so this recommendation comes truly from the heart. However, if you book using this link, I’ll get a small commission from booking.com.

Galle, the last stop on my trip through Sri Lanka, conquered my heart despite the fact that it’s very touristy.

Galle Sri Lanka

There is even a small beach next to Galle’s iconic lighthouse.

It is one of the eight sites being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage – and while places like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy are on the list for really, really old structures and architectonic sites, Galle is sort of the baby of the family: The beautiful, historic Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and expanded and finished by the Dutch in the 17th century.

 

this way to read the whole story >>>