Second day at Byron Bay…the weekend was yet not over

I didn’t have any plans for rest of the day after the Hot Air Ballooning adventure of mine. Once I was back in my hostel, I came to know about this monthly market that was held today in town. I felt excited once again to see something new so I checked out of the hostel, as my train back to Sydney was in the evening, and headed to the town with my backpack with me. I was again on my way for some more sight seeing. I was lucky that I got to visit this market and it was a nice way to explore more about the culture of the place as well. Market was more like a fair in this little town and there were colors everywhere. I did try some ice-cream and enjoyed some live music with the locals. It was a true authentic experience that makes you feel almost a part of the place.

After visiting the market, I called one of the friends that I made yesterday to catch up before I leave and he was generous to give me a nice tour of the nearby beach and then a small town called ‘Bungalow’. If you are looking for some peaceful and small place to stay then this is your destination. It is more like a countryside with a road full of greenery leading to it. It is a nice 15 minutes drive from Byron Bay with nice cafe and small market of its own. Also there are many art galleries and shops at this place. We came back to Byron Bay and as there was an hour left before I could catch my bus so we though of getting something to eat and drink in a nearby cafe just across the bus stand while still enjoying the sunset. It was 5:00 PM when I saw a bus with the Country Link logo waiting at the bus stand. I checked my itinerary and the time to board the bus was 5:15 PM on it. I still thought it’s better to board the bus in advance so I started getting my stuff together in order to get to the bus stand. The moment I arrived the bus stand the bus left. What? This can’t be happening I thought in my head. My friend was still with me so he offered me a ride to the next stop to catch the bus. Soon we were chasing this bus but soon it disappeared. I panicked thinking about the incidence last morning when I missed the station but this time I was angry thinking how can the bus leave earlier than the time mentioned on the itinerary. Suddenly my friend realized that the direction we were going was not correct and it was leading us to Brisbane (in the opposite direction to Sydney) and we saw another bus coming from the opposite direction. We quickly took a U-Turn and drove back to the bus stand as we realized we were chasing the wrong bus altogether and the bus to Sydney was on time. That’s what happens when you panic and when you have already missed your bus/station in past. I said good by to my friend and finally boarded the bus to Sydney (its a break journey – bus to Casino and then another train to Sydney from there). This time I didn’t miss anything and got home the next morning before going to work. So overall it was a weekend full of fun, adventure, thrill and excitement I must say. Hope you enjoyed it with me 🙂 I will be back with some more stories as I plan my next destination which is not far but only two weeks from now. Where? That I will reveal in my future posts.  Till then enjoy life and keep smiling my friend 🙂

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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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My journey from a thinker to an observer

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I used to keep thinking about ‘stuff’ all the time whether in train or bus on foot. I never realised that there were so many things happening around me all the times that I kept missing because I was too observed in myself most of the times.

Since I have started travelling and taking pictures I realised that I have changed – changed from a thinker to an observer. No matter where I am – in a bus, plane, train or street, I observe most of the things around me. Is it good or bad? Good of course as I am able to appreciate my surroundings and feel more aware. And how does that help? Yes, it does believe me as this way I am living in the present rather focusing my energy either on past events or future plans.

This does not mean that I have stopped thinking but only when needed and not like a lost soul in her thoughts all the time. It is amazing as I don’t feel sad about things in past and I don’t feel pressurized but the future plans. All I am doing is just live the present and accept things as they happen. It feels very different as I am the kind of person who is more indulged in past and future than present usually. And not to mention it always makes me feel either frustrated/sad/hasty/excited/pressurized thinking about stuff that I could have done differently or things I have to do in near future. Where the truth is I can’t change the past and future is yet not there. All I can do is planning for future in an organized way possible and then leave it for the time being till it become present to actually execute it.

I feel freer as well as living in the present means only to deal with things that are there in front of you and not to burden yourself with everything else in the world. This is what Mahatma Gandhi said that one should live his/her life as if he/she is going to die the very next day. And I think travelling has changed my habit in such a way that I am indirectly living my life that way only.

Bagel to beach in Hawaii

Spent the day to get to the beach, starting with bagel and eggs and then waiting for the bus for an hour which didn’t let us in as it was already full. Walked 2 miles only to find that the beach we heading was way too rough to swim. Took a bus to better beach and loved the 2hours window that we got there due to the already spent time wandering off…came back to Thai food then had a really good laugh watching ‘An Idiot Abroad’ show on a friends laptop. Loving Hawaii for its fun, frustating, adventurous and all sorts of experiences.