31st of December 2012..the last day of this wonderful year that filled my life with happiness, surprises, cultural versatility..that opened up that book called world, of what I have been reading only one page before..over and over again…

I think about a year ago I planned to celebrate NYE in Japan..and some of my friends were supposed to join in..well none of these happened but i don’t mind it at all.

So..I landed at Colombo airport..and made friends on the plane with a boy from Kazakhstan who spoke no English. Him being the only white person apart from me on the plane kinda forced us to talk, we took a taxi to Mount Lavinia (2 hours from airport)..arrived at the hostel I booked around 10.30 pm..got ready in 30 mins and went to the beach to join the crazy Sri Lankan crowd to celebrate the New Year.

NYE Sri Lanka NYE

Mount Lavinia is not a big deal…you need to be careful with the ‘helpful’ beach boys..Sri lanka is the first country I’ve been to where you cannot rely on the locals…because they say whatever they want. Otherwise tourists get some genuine attention from children an adults too..

Mt Lavinia Beach mt Lavinia

As I was walking on the beach on the 2nd day of my stay in Sri Lanka I happened to meet a lovely Aussie lady (Irene) and we connected fairly quickly. We had a tea on the beach and decided to do a sightseeing tour in Colombo with a tuk-tuk. Colombo is a busy city with a fort, beach and some nice shopping areas, markets cafes…Irene had a couple of days before the wedding she was in Sri Lanka for so we decided that the next day we would go to Bentota ..the next beach town down towards South.

Colombo:

Colombo Colombo Paradise road

Bentota is not designed for backpackers..in fact I could say this about the whole Sri Lanka..due to the civil war they are not used to tourists..at least not as much as Thailand or the rest of South -East Asia..concept of dormitory doesn’t exist…only in few places as part of family stay. Accommodation is hard to find below $10 which was expensive for me..being at the end of my trip and being used to $2-5 ones in SE Asia…

We had a fine dining experience with Irene..being the farewell night together..it was nice!

Bentota fine dining

After Bentota I headed down to Hikkaduwa  -previously known as a hippie hangout place. You can do all this route by train ..better travelling on 2nd class than 3rd..you still get the experience:)

Hikkaduwa was ok..overpriced though…locals are working with 200% profits…a tip, if you buy in the supermarket a bottle of water or anything else always check the suggested retail price on the package/bottle so you get an idea about what the locals pay..King coconut for locals is 25 rupees, foreigners 100:) Don’t get me wrong it is still cheap if you are not backpacking…

So Hikkaduwa was about partying for me..stayed 2 nights, partied 2 nights with a group of Aussies and Vindika (who got me the accommodation in Vibration hotel where he worked at). Good times. Hikkaduwa is great for surfing..weather wise I wasn’t too happy as although being high season it was raining most of the time..or was just simply overcast.

Hikkaduwa Hikkaduwa

Next destination was Galle/Unawatuna..Galle is a wonderful upmarket town with an impressive fort that offers little allies, narrow streets, lots of cafes with character and a few arty or castle looking accommodation. I have to say people are very helpful in helping to find place to stay or giving directions etc.

So that’s how I found this little gem called Peace and Plenty in the middle of the fort that offered an excellent room, staff and atmosphere. Sam, the owner was super friendly, unfortunately turned out later there it wasn’t 100% genuine..

So the guy who took me to Sam’s place happened to attend a wedding on the night when I arrived to Galle..and asked if I wanted to go. I was very tired after the Hikkaduwa party sessions but..a Sri Lankan wedding?? How could I skip it? In addition it wasn’t in Galle but in Colombo which is 160km away..so a long car ride was waiting for me.

The wedding was very nice. I was the only foreigner..had a nice chat with people, they were interested in my story and wanted to see me on the dance floor. The music was excellent..Shakira, some funky hindi music, even Cocco Jumbo and Tarkan appeared and the folks went crazy. So did I ..and I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol.

Wedding wedding

The wedding finished at 11 pm..not like in Hungary where the last guest needed to be kicked out at 6am:)

Next day sightseeing in Galle. There is nothing else there but the fort however it’s well worth a walk around:

GalleGalle

A kind older man working in the fort explained me a bit about the history..Sri Lanka being first Portuguese then Dutch and in the end British colony and how each nation influenced the architecture and culture.

Sam took me around a bit in Unawatuna, the fishermen’s sunset point and the turtle conservation..I tried the famous Sri Lankan curd and honey…well that’s something that I could get used to….

Sri Lankan fisherman curd and honey

Unawatuna

Peace and Plenty:

Peace & Plenty

After Galle I visited the last beach town down on the coast Unawatuna..I met Judit, a Hungarian girl while doing the last 2 dives of my trip..we had a sudden click, she lives in Belgium and a big fan of travelling..and what’s more not package travelling:)

with Judit Beach Una

Now..diving..this was a one-off experience, as at the second dive I was a kind of  dive master 🙂 Pointing out all the marine life, then taking up the group a few minutes later than the ‘real dive master’ who went up with one of our group members earlier. I felt great..I felt this is what I want to do in my life..dive every day, meet people, give people a fantastic experience under the water just as I have been receiving it..

After Unawatuna I took the bus to Ella which  is inside the country..in the so-called Hill Country where tea plantations, curvy hill ranges and eternal green scenery surround the train rails. This was a whopping 8 hour bus ride with 2 changes, but eventually I got there and found good accommodation. I was too lazy to do anything the rest of the afternoon, just chilled..shame as next day it was raining all day..I didn’t feel like staying in my room though, so I borrowed an umbrella and went trekking:) This is what I’ve seen:

Ella tea plantations

view from 98 acres

After Ella I took the train to Adam’s Peak..The famous holy place in the middle of Sri Lanka..where you start trekking at 2.30am to make the 7km uphill consisting of purely stairs by sunrise..I met Katherine (Germany) on the way to Dalehousie (starting point of the trek), we took a room together and started the night adventure together. It was challenging to go up but holy as well in the same time..I couldn’t hide my surprise to see the locals going up..from the 3-year-old to the 90 year old..they did it! Because they wanted to do it! Why on earth people in my country ‘close the doors’ at age of 50? Why do they say constantly..I’m old..it’s not for me anymore..Bloody hell I have never seen in my life so many durable people as I did on this trip! Feet strong enough to walk on stones without shoes..constantly..backs strong enough to carry 10-15 kg of boxes or sacks..uphill..for hours..heads carrying 5-10 kg fruit baskets..hearts opening towards me and other people even in the most cruel circumstances and poorest situations..the humanity is just insane in the 3rd world countries..

Tired Adam's Peak

Sunrise Adam's Peak Team

After Adam’s Peak we travelled together to Kandy with Katherine. Arrived at 3pm, we hired a tuk tuk driver who took us to the ‘top’ places to visit..Kandy is nice but very quiet with a lake in the middle and a few temples around.

Kandy lake Buddha temple

Kandy city

After Kandy I took the 6am train to Colombo, then bus to Mt. Lavinia to collect my big backpack. (I was so clever leaving that behind….would have been a pain to store it on any vehicles). After this I took the bus back to Colombo and changed for one to Negombo. They could have called the airport Negombo airport as it’s closer to Negombo than to Colombo..that’s why I went up there a day earlier ..not to have any issues when getting to the airport:)

Best decision I could have taken..why? Well I stayed in a wonderful family house (running as a hostel with bunk beds but felt like being at home..super clean with happy travellers inside)..and met Scott (from the US) with whom there was a ‘click at first sight’ if you call it like this..

I was amazed by his positive vibe, kindness and healthy life..and he was amazed by..not sure..my bubbliness maybe? Anyway we went for dinner together and he showed me a fantastic juice place that I can only recommend to anyone staying in Negombo..It is situated close to the beach in Grace’s Hotel Negombo.

Grace's juice bar Grace and family

Negombo beach is not particularly nice but the couples under umbrella make it special..(showing affection in public  is not accepted in Sri Lanka hence the umbrella:)

Umbrella couples

On the 14th I took my flight to Delhi. Turned out Scott was arriving the following day so we decided to travel the first days together in India till he joins the group he booked with from home..

Next post..(last post for now) is coming up soon…on the 18th country I visited in the past 12 months…India.

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