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
Anuradhapura –> Polonnaruwa
107 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 39 minutes, Actual: 3 hours
Polonnaruwa –> Sigiriya
58.8 KM, Estimated: 57 minutes , Actual: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sigiriya –> Dambulla
18.8 KM, Estimated: 20 minutes, Actual: 40 minutes
Dambulla –> Kandy
72.8 KM, Estimated: 1 hour 33 minutes, Actual: 2 hours
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
Ella –> Kandy
138 KM, Estimated: 3 hours, Actual: 5 Hours 30 minutes
Kandy –> Negombo
104 KM, Estimated: 2 hours, Actual: 10 Hours
Negombo –> Bandaranaike International Airport
9.9 KM, Estimated: 15 miutes, Actual: 30 minutes
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 😉
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).
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.
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 🙂