Time to Slow down? Wait one more day to go before that – Part 3 (Travel faster or Fast Travel – Sri Lanka in 7 crazy days)

I am back πŸ™‚ I know you have enjoyed the last two posts and hope I can share as much as possible in this post with you as well. I didn’t intent to make it a series here but had so many pics and so many incidents to share that turned out that can’t be written in one post. So after last two posts here comes some adventure and more relaxing way to travel in third post πŸ˜‰

Here is the link to last two posts in case you haven’t read them already or want to read again πŸ˜‰ Although to be clear there is not much dependency so you can go ahead and read this only as well.

Part 1: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Part 2: https://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/go-go-go-rest-of-sri-lanka-is-waiting-part-2-travel-faster-or-fast-travel-sri-lanka-in-7-crazy-days/

Now that I was done with Sigiriya, I took another bus to get to Dambulla, city famous for cave temple. It takes almost 40 minutes to get there. But to be honest I felt its more over a stop over for few hours and better to continue to next destination after this if you don’t want to spend time in one place only. I checked out the Cave Temple.

Now that I had seen the temple it was time to go to another city where I could be more comfortable staying and might get a chance to go out. Kandy, my next stop, was like a town in India (Nainital – near my home town Almora). Its main attraction is the lake in the center of the town. It has got a feel of hill station to it. And I really felt glad that this is where I planned to stay finally.

 

It was this feeling that made me more energetic after already been to two towns before getting here. Now the next task ahead was to find a place to live. It was close to 4 PM so not much time in hand but still enough. So I stated walking around the lake. I saw a road going uphill and started walking on it with my backpack. It was a rough walk after a tiring day but then I was not going to settle down with just any Auto-rickshaw telling me where I can stay as they always quote a higher price. And by now I was in the country for 4 days so felt like I am already an expert (which was a mistake really to be this over confident). I kept walking and then I realized the higher you go the more expensive the hotels were. I talked to few locals and they pointed out to few directions I could go and I finally went to a home-stay but at this height, not even home stay was cheap. I gave up and as directed by one of the locals, I finally took an Auto-rickshaw and went to find a better and cheap place to stay that can fit in my backpacker’s budget. Note: You don’t have backpackers much in countries like this (other than Colombo). But it’s still cheaper to get a room at your own.

I finally found a really nice place and that too very cheap in a hotel. And it was time to get some food as my physical strength was giving up by now. I got fresh and headed to the town now. Got some local food like last time – Kottu (roti made with various vegetables). I loved it and was eating it almost everyday. This time I was really brave and determined to at least try few Sri Lanka dishes and one fruit, one sweet-dish and if possible one local drink. And guess what – I tried them all. And you know what now I am already feeling hungry talking about it πŸ™‚ So after food and some desert, I was ready to go out for a drink. I met a polish guy who was also willing to see some nice club in the town. The more the merrier and we headed to a nice place and I tried the local drink called Arrack. Also spelled arak, it is a distilled alcoholic drink made from either the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain (e.g. red rice) or fruit, depending upon the country of origin. It was really strong and I felt right to order just once. And was happy enough that I could still remember the way to home..lol. Don’ t worry I am never that drunk as directions are like my sixth sense and if I know the  way then I can always get my way no matter what.

Next morning was so beautiful that I could not complain to get up early. I had inquired the last evening where I wanted to go today – ‘Bahirawakanda Viharaya’. Its a 88 feet high Buddha temple on top of a hill and provide a bird’s eye view of the town.

I was already on my way to this place as I was missing some exercise so I planned to walk to this place. It’s an hour walk at max and very pleasant if you start first thing in the morning, although I started around 10 AM. But it was fine anyways. I made sure that I keep my sandals with me in my bag (just in case I loose it as I could not afford walking back barefoot). It was a treat for eyes to see this very big statue of Buddha. It has got a little museum with different wall cravings on it. It was a nice and refreshing walk back to the town.

Now it was time to head to the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya. It is located in the hill country of the central province in Sri Lanka. Its name means – City of Light. If you ever go to Sri Lanka then the train ride is a must. So you better get ready for one of the most amazing train ride through a very beautiful breathtaking scenery.

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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 πŸ˜‰

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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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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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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