Birthday Present Trip: Sri Lanka – October 2014

Most of my friends raised their eyebrow when I told them I was going to Sri Lanka. It’s definitely not a common holiday destination for an Indonesian. I know several people who went to Nepal or India, but not Sri Lanka. Thanks to boyfie for the trip as a birthday present, because the trip was amazingly enjoyable and horizon broadening.

# First stop: Colombo.

The flight arrived in the capital city of Sri Lanka. Compared to Jakarta, this city is less developed. Not many tall and shiny buildings, the cars are cheaper than most Jakartans’ and they apparently only have 2 highways in the entire country. Most of the buildings are in the colonial style, which made me feel like I was time traveling. But surprisingly enough, although Colombo has traffic jams during peak hours, people are more respectful towards each other that makes the traffic doesn’t feel as bad as being stuck in Tanah Abang or Tomang area at 6 PM. This might also have something to do with their lower population and less economical gap between the people, in my opinion. Staying in the west side of the city gave us a closer trip to the fort to watch the sunset. We even had time to detour to some art galleries / cafes – which this city has a lot of them. I guess this country has a better sense of appreciation towards art rather than Indonesia, or maybe I’m the one who’s ignorant about my own country. Before I depart, I found myself worrying about communicating in English with people in Sri Lanka. But it turned out only to be another misjudgment I made. An average Sri Lankan speaks better English than an average Indonesian does, which I guess has a lot to do with The Britain’s colonial who cared about the people’s education, while Indonesia was ruled by the Dutch instead. The downside of this is that local people constantly try to hassle you with all of the daylight robbery offers while as a foreigner in Jakarta, you only have to deal with continuous intense stares. Double the amount if you’re local with a foreign boyfriend. #justsayin’

Tuk tuk with meter

Tuk tuk with meter

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Colombo Fort

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Art Gallery / cafe

# Food Trying authentic Sri Lankan and Indian food really puts every single Indian restaurant in Jakarta into a joke. The curry was made in heaven and the rice was made by hands of angels. I couldn’t take spicy food before, but seems like it’s all worth it now. Ones that really pampered my taste buds are chicken masala, nasi briyani and the papadam crackers.

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# Second Stop: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage After staying for a night in Colombo, we went to the north to Kandy City in Central Province. We decided to go by cab so we can stop when we want to, without worrying about catching the next train or bus. So we stopped in an Elephant Orphanage called Pinnawala. This place was rather similar to an open zoo, where you can touch and feed the elephants… while telling off the workers who kept asking you for a tip after they charged you 20 times more entrance fee just by being a foreigner. But the elephants, especially the babies, are cute and fun to pet. Still a great experience after all since we can actually touch and feed them. 1527007_10205231383210219_7687294709621376631_n 10629591_10205218084677764_7148958906711212518_n # Third stop: Kandy This city is rather hilly than the capital city so the temperature was a little bit lower. The cloudy and rainy days didnt help much either. Kandy has even more classical ambience than Colombo. The architectures and the music they play in public places made me feel like I was in the 1940’s – as if I know how the 1940’s looked like. Ha ha. We visited the market on the second day since I wanted to buy a saree, the national clothing of Sri Lanka and India. Proved that Sri Lankans have big wishful thoughts as they offered me the saree for 3200 Rupee, almost 10 times the price. I got a red pretty one for 350 Rupee on the next day. Wins! After the market visit, we went to the Temple Of The Tooth – which also charge you like you are the step son of Bill Gates. Personally, visiting this temple brings memories of pre-agnostic life I’ve had years ago. But everything is about perspective – nothing is absolutely true. Sorry. It’s the cloudy weather and the crows that affected me. Next!

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Kandy’s weather – haunting!

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3 Dollars saree!

One of my priorities in my traveling to do list is to attend a local / traditional performance. It was a Kandyan dance called Rangahala. I kept a high expectation since when I went to China I attended a mesmerizing traditional Chinese orchestra. This Rangahala is still stunning with walking on fire performance, dances and percussion in a fast tempo, although they could perform a better show if they practice the choreography better so they would move together and in time. 15483_10205218090397907_2745599882387164079_n For boyfie’s love of nature, we went to a botanical garden on the next day. Green, peaceful and quiet, a good track for walking as well. There’s a cafe we had tea at before we impulsively hopped into a bus with a hope that it would take us closer to Tea Museum. The museum was a 4 storey building with a free female guide in saree who explains about the tea processing in a cute strong Sri Lankan accent and makes you tea at the end of the tour. I believe it would be nicer without the rain so we could help the farmer picking tea leaves too. As a massage whore, trying a traditional massage in a new place is a must for me. I’ve been hearing about this Aryuveda massage and decided to try it out. Giving how rare the massages place, I would guess that Sri Lankan doesn’t put too much concern on massages. The spa was twice more expensive than what I usually have in Jakarta, but they provide a pick up / drop off service too, since it was pretty far out the city, so I guess that’s fair enough. Expecting a strong deep tissue massage was apparently a bad start to experience this. Rather than putting pressure on the muscle, apparently they were more focused on applying the massage oil – which they said contains of a lot of herbal medicine – to our skin. We ended up in a hot steam for our body to absorb tons of oil they put on us. The steam was nice, but I wouldn’t call it a massage since this place and program are actually more suitable for a retreat and healing service. They even have people staying there for days to cure their diseases.

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Botanical Garden

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Last stop: Galle

We caught the early train at 5 to Galle. Giving the cheap ticket, USD 3, I guess it was fair enough for it to move slowly. But the best thing is that the track of this train was built along the coast. Every time you look at the west side, all you see is beach! Isn’t that pretty! We arrived at Galle station at noon. This pretty little town easily became my favourite stop. I generally like beaches more than hills and mountains, but this town gave me more than just a beach. Galle reminds me of Melbourne that has this European style with all the little alleys that are full of little shops and cafes. I would say this town is divided into two main areas:  the beaches and the fort. The fort area where we stayed at has a cute light house that makes this area the prettiest. One morning boyfie woke me up early to watch the sunrise up the fort which is next to the light house, and that was simply gorgeous. And the best part is that there was nearly no one there, so we got this breath taking view for our own!

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Train ride to Galle

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Galle Fort and Light House View

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A beach for your own!

We walked down to have breakfast at one of the little cafes I’ve mentioned and went to Unawatuna beach. This beach is blissful because it was so clear and wasn’t overly visited, if I compare that to Phuket or Kuta in Bali. Cafes and bars next to each other were available for us to get some booze and play games. We even joined a group of Sri Lankan to play volley ball. People are so friendly. Especially when you try to talk Sinhala with them, they would think it was cute. There is another beach we visited called Jungle Beach. It was a smaller beach with even less people on it, but the access to get there was less simple than to reach Unawatuna. We had to leave on Sunday 😦 Even though I wouldn’t say I would come back here in my next trip, this was an amazing experience to visit Sri Lanka!

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