Go go go….Rest of Sri Lanka is waiting – Part 2 (Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days)

So where were we…yes it is in continuation of my last post as I promised..but don’t worry if you missed that as there is no such connection that you would need to know something in advance to read this one. So go ahead and have your share of fun – at my expense 😉

Here is the link for my last post though in case you are thinking what fun you might have missed:

https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Now I was in the bus to Polonnaruwa, second old capital of Sri Lanka. Although after visiting Anuradhapura I was not going to be surprised to see thousands of years old buildings and their remain I thought but being a traveler you are always curious for unseen and new places and things. So here I was in another town. It was a bit difficult to get seat in the bus so I preferred to stand like many other locals and tried to use my biceps muscle power to keep myself from falling on the floors or outside the door as I was close to the front door. I then realized that I had made some good biceps picking up my backpack in last few weeks of travelling in Nepal and here. Not that I am going to use it as my strong point as I am not into body building or something but it helps when in the plane or other places I can just lift my big backpack with one hand and fit it into any high place at my own…hehehe..funny though 🙂 But finally when I gave up and sat on the floor then a gentleman offered me his seat as he was getting down. I enjoyed sitting for half an hour and got ready to meet this new town and enjoy what it has to offer now.

It was evening and I was very happy with myself now as I had enough time to find a place to live and get some decent food after all this hard work. Yes, this is what I call hard work when I travel – successfully execute challenging targets ;), like getting at places on time…hehehehe…See I told you, you are going to have fun on my expense…go ahead I don’t mind.

I saw one guy approaching me with a card of a hotel and he told me that he can offer me great price. But here I was all over-confident about my capabilities of finding a better place than this. So I politely raised my hand in a gesture of saying no and started walking towards the town. I walked for 15 minutes and saw a bunch of girls walking towards my direction. Being a girl I felt that it will be easy to communicate with the same gender. But what I didn’t realize was that none of them could understand even a single word of English. Now that was a sign of trouble. I regretted the decision of not listening to the guy at the bus stand. But with my attitude it got hard to go back so I continued. See sometimes tiredness of travel can make you stupid and rude. And I walked into another hotel which was way too expensive than what I was already been offered. But my luck is good at times and I saw that guy again. This time I was very happy to see him and he asked me instantly if I am happy to stay at the hotel he mentioned. Next minute I was on my way to the same hotel with good price and close to the market.

I got a nice big room for my own. In Sri Lanka there is not much of a backpacking culture but if you are travelling with your friend then its very cheap to get a room and it gives you more privacy and freedom rather than sharing a place with 6-7 other people at times. But still both have their pros and cons. Anyways soon after getting fresh I got an awesome deal that if I want then the same guy can arrange an Auto for me to see the town and it was 3 PM so I didn’t really mind it as it could free me the next day to explore more places. Soon I got the auto and started taking pictures of this new awesome and old place. This place had the same rule – either buy the pass or get the auto rickshaw to show you around. I was too tired to walk all around it so I chose the second option.

Entrance Ticket for Polonnaruwa

Entrance Ticket for Polonnaruwa

This place took me by surprise due to its tall and huge buildings and remains of the kingdom. Nothing like Anuradhapura and I felt good about my decision to come here. I was taking so many pictures to make sure that if I miss any details then I can revisit them again. Also here are some of those cherished memories for you as well.

It was sunset again – my weakness for some reason 🙂 Yes, I know it sound romantic but I think I am in love with nature then…hehehe. So I started taking pics of the sunset. Please note that in pilgrimage places you are asked to leave your footwear outside the gate at most of the places. Tip: Try to keep it in your bag. Why? Here is the answer – After I returned from the temple, I could not find my sandals on the gate. I searched it for 30 minutes with head torch. Not that it was a gift that I could not live without, but I had to walk  to the next temple barefoot, which believe me is not very comfortable for your feet on concrete and uneven ground.

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I got a bit angry at the fact that whoever took it didn’t even think of the inconvenience that would cause to the owner. But who thinks that right. I got a very beautiful on my way to the next temple in the night though. So I would take that as a reward.

I got home a bit upset and went to a hotel to get my food. After dinner I got normal again with my smiling face. Also I tried Sri Lanka breakfast (Hopper and String Hopper)

20130326_190645 20130326_190544for dinner which I didn’t have a clue is actually eaten for breakfast, till I read it under the breakfast menu the next day somewhere. I also tried the Watalappam (sweet dish). And then I retired to bed with content heart and peaceful head finally.

Good morning! New morning and new  things to look forward to. What else you want in life? But unfortunately my adventure never leaves me feeling this way. I paid for my hotel and caught a bus to next place – Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. Its a 200 meter high rock basically which was chosen by the king Kasyapa for his capital due to security reasons (it was easy to see from the top of the rock if some one was approaching the castle). I got dropped on the way from where I was supposed to get another bus to Sigiriya. When I arrived there then I was informed that I have to pay another 30 USD.

Lion Temple

Lion Rock

Now this was enough as I was paying everywhere and this was not in my budget (poor planning). But I was not going to back down by this fact so God listened to me and a local told me that he can show me another temple from where I can actually see Sigiriya clearly and would need to pay only 2 USD. What a deal, I got ready instantly. I went to this temple with him as he was happy to show me around (nice people).

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This temple is called ‘Pidurangala’. You can have an awesome view (carry binoculars if you need a super close view). I visited temple and then the local guide told me that I have to keep walking to the top.

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Due to the trees I was not sure how much clear view I was going to get of Sigiriya. But I had lost my appetite to see it due to the high entrance fees really, specially when you have to pay to see every damn thing. Pardon my language but that was how I felt really. So I kept climbing the stairs. Stopping on my way to take pictures and then again climbing up.

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My heart beat was high in unusual manner and I though it might be due to this exercise. But then I realized my feet are giving up. And I had to sit down on a rock. Instantly I calculated the time we took to get here and a quick observation of my situation made it clear that I was going to faint soon as I was dehydrated. Wow, that can be taken as a big zero for my carelessness. How could I not carry water? How could I be so careless? Everyday I do drink enough to keep me going but today I had no water and as I woke up late so skipped my breakfast as well. No lollies or any snacks in my bag. That’s it. I felt that it was over. At this strange place with this strange person, I am in deep trouble now. I asked the guy to bring me water. First he denied asking if I can walk back rather. But after insisting he got ready to get me some water. I literally prayed to God and said sorry for being so irresponsible. Then I found a place to lie down and get some air as I was breathing hard. Then not sure why but started thinking what would James Bond do in my situation to hide the passport and other important things I was carrying in my bag to secure them. See this is called movie buff when you are about to faint but still thinking that you are smart as James Bond….lol. But fortunately I didn’t have to show my smartness and I was feeling better soon. Also the guy brought me some water and I drank all of it. Then what, we started climbing again. Crazy right….yes I know. But I came here so far then how could I turn back. So I kept moving and after some rock climbing, as its not as easy as Sigiriya (proper stairs are available there), we arrived at the top. And there it was awesome view of the Lion Rock (Sigiriya). I felt alive again. This was the 360 degree view for which I worked hard till now. It was worth I would say.

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On the way there was this most amazingly beautiful statue of Buddha as well. Now why don’t I continue in another post. Hope you enjoyed this post and come back to read another one. Hopefully tomorrow 🙂

Me - All revived after this nice view in-front of me out of nowhere

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Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days

You would say I was crazy to travel 9 cities in 7 days in a new country – Sri Lanka. No, I did see all the attractions, climbed a mountain, worshiped in temples, prayed in monastery, walked around the world’s end. How did I manage to do it? Yes, that’s the question I am looking for now. For some reason I am usually a very fast traveler. I traveled around Bali in 14 days which was reasonable good amount of time to see most of the places there. But this went crazy when I arrived in Sri Lanka with only 7 days in my kitty and no patience to wait till the next visit to see more.

Yes, I did go crazy otherwise how do you suggest I could travel there in 7 days via public transport and still manage to see most of the things without skipping anything. Of course there was a high level of discomfort, specially when you realize that being a travel doesn’t guarantee you the seat in the 5-6 hours of bus and train can be delayed for infinite time sometimes. But then you get used to of it and you start using your tired brain for nice ideas like accepting the situation and use your time to read a nice book in the train station and sit on the floor on the bus to save yourself from ultimate tiredness.

Now, I didn’t promise it is going to be a luxury trip – did I? So here we go…

1000 KM and 9 cities in 7 Days with 150 USD cash (excluding airfare) – Crazy Travels (You don’t believe? Have a look at the facts then)

Bandaranaike International Airport –> Colombo
31.0 KM, Estimated: 51 minutes, Actual: 3 hours
By Auto and Bus

Colombo —> Anuradhapura
202 KM, Estiamted: 3 Hours and 25 Minutes, Actual: 6 hours 30 minutes
By Train

Anuradhapura –> Polonnaruwa
107 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 39 minutes, Actual: 3 hours
By Bus

Polonnaruwa –> Sigiriya
58.8 KM, Estimated: 57 minutes , Actual: 1 hour 30 minutes
By Bus

Sigiriya –> Dambulla
18.8 KM, Estimated: 20 minutes, Actual: 40 minutes
By Bus

Dambulla –> Kandy
72.8 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 33 minutes, Actual: 2 hours
By Bus

Kandy –> Nuwara Eliya
73.4 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 8 minutes, Actual: 2 hours
By Train (Famous for the view)

Nuwara Eliya –> Ella
64.6 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 3 minutes, Actual: 2 hours
By Bus

Ella –> Kandy
138 KM, Estimated: 3 hours, Actual: 5 Hours 30 minutes
By Train

Kandy –> Negombo
104 KM, Estimated: 2 hours, Actual: 10 Hours
By Bus

Negombo –> Bandaranaike International Airport
9.9 KM, Estimated: 15 miutes, Actual: 30 minutes
By Bus

60 – Approximate walking
60 – Auto in the cities

Now this is an approximate that I was able to get via Google maps and that can result in few KM here and there. So you are ready to start with me? I am going to take you on a brief trip with me now.

I arrived in Sri Lanka Airport and realized that I didn’t have to bring all the jumpers with me looking at the humidity. But that was just the start. Then I decided to take the public transport to get to my hostel and was welcomed by rain on the way to the gate. I had more trust on my strength than any auto around so I started walking to the bus stand which turned to be further ahead than I was suggested by the locals. But then I was being talked into taking an auto to get there only after walking for at least 15 minutes. I was then able to secure the back seat in the bus. Soon I was relaxed after no sleep for one night and two days (My flight was early morning around 5 AM from Delhi to Chennai and Chennai to Sri Lanka, this was the reason I came to the Delhi airport in the night itself to make sure I don’t miss the flight in case I sleep in and also that was a pre-caution for security I thought was worth taking rather than taking a cab in the night in Delhi). So here I was successfully arrived in Sri Lanka on my own.

[Also I would like to add some more details to it. This trip was a result of 3 hours of confusion as to what shall I go for a relaxing week before going to Sydney from India. And then I had to cancel meeting a friend over the weekend as I was now heading to the Airport in the evening..lol…I know it sounds crazy but this is the reason that unlike many other times I had no idea what I am going to do in this new country.]

Now back to the actual story – I felt a pull on my purse and realized a guy sitting near me was trying to take my purse. As soon as I realized this I lost no time in shouting over him and rest of the people came to help me but he was quick enough to run when the bus driver stopped the bus hearing all the noises from the back. I some how managed to get the second bus to my destination now after the bus driver and conductor tried to rip me off by telling me wrong currency conversion. Thank God I knew how much it was though. A nice local helped me in the next bus to get the correct fare finally and I got to my hostel. I was tired and angry with the situation but didn’t take much time to cool off when I met other travelers from different countries. See this is why I love hostels at times because its always good to meet people when you are in such a situation. First of all its distracting and then it helps to share and cools you down a little. Not that I am an angry woman but wrong doings can make me really agitated to be honest. Till then I am a happy go lucky person 😉

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Then me and another guy took out the map and started planning my next few days itinerary as I was there for the shortest time. And that way we both were also making notes of nice places to see in various cities. I took few pictures of map afterwards as there was only one map in the hostel (Yes I know I am so badly prepared with any thing at all). Then next day I left Colombo to go to the city of ancient kingdom, the first capital of Sri Lanka – Anuradhapura. It was supposed to be 3.5 hours by train but it took 6.5 hours. So don’t be amazed as it happens there as well as in India. So have a buffer whenever you are planning to take train there. And also the trains run only few times a day so be careful and make sure you plan accordingly. Finally I arrived in Anuradhapura with no booking for hostel as I was assuming to get there in the afternoon and find the place accordingly. I met few locals on the trains and two ladies from them called a known auto-rickshaw driver for me to search a hotel. I finally found a nice place that was way out of my budget so I had to use my bargaining skills to convince them that its not a loss for them to give me room as at this time when they have half of their hotel empty not many tourist are going to come. I got the room and took a much needed sleep after a day long train trip. Next day I was ready with my back pack and called an Auto to show me around and then planned to catch a bus to my next destination – Polonnaruwa (Second capital of Sri Lanka).

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I loved this little cave….place used for prayers

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At this place more than 300 monks used to pray almost 1000 years ago

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I have never met such an intellectual auto-rickshaw driver in my life. This guys knew each and everything about the town. Its a common practice there that if you book an Auto then the driver is also your guide. And one more very important thing – there is an entrance fees almost everywhere in Sri Lanka. So there is an option to either buy the ticket yourself and roam around at your own. Or you can book the auto in the same price and they arrange the ticket for you and show you around. I was aware of this fact from the guide that I read a day before coming here. So I chose the second option due to lack of time. So I was able to see the old town in few hours and he even dropped me to the bus station.

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Bath for royal family

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Remains of Stupa

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Cave Temple

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Luckily people in Sri Lanka were celebrating festival

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Prayers

Oh it seems that my post is getting very long and I have to share the pics as well so why not I post the rest of it in next post 🙂 I would love you to come back and have a look at the next one as then I can tell how was I able to spend so less and still have a wonderful experience in this beautiful country 🙂

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Stupa – Sign of world peace

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I was told that the circle of life is represented by this half moon

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