I just came back from India after a 6 day trip that was full of colorful views and various kind of experiences. Before I can share more about my experience in an article, here are some shots that I took on my way. Enjoy!!
It was a long train journey and got worse when couldn’t get comfortable to get enough sleep. Yes, right I didn’t sleep all night to make sure I get down at the Casino to catch a bus to Byron Bay, even asked the guy working in the train to wake me up just in case. And good thing that it’s their job to wake people up otherwise in the night trains it might be chaos if people who board can’t get the seat because other people have forgotten to get down. I was able to get 1 hour nap and caught the bus to Byron Bay. And then I decided to watch a movie as the journey was only for 3 hours. So I started a dance movie that was downloaded on my phone. I watched some of it but then sitting in a bus where everyone was sleeping and there was not enough light at this time of the night so I felt a bit sleepy. I took a nap and put an alarm to wake me up as I was supposed to get down at Byron Bay around 5:55 AM. My alarm ran off and I realized its 4:55 AM and felt like having a 5 minutes nap which I do at home sometimes before going to work. I heard someone mentioning Byron Bay but I felt I was dreaming.
Suddenly I woke up and looked at my phone. It was 6:15 AM and I was supposed to be going Hot Air Ballooning before 6 AM (a guy was waiting in Byron Bay to pick me up). Shit! That was my exact expression. I ran to the driver and asked how far Byron Bay is. He looked at me in surprise and told me that Byron Bay station already passed. What? I didn’t sleep all night for this. What…I didn’t have words for few minutes and I asked him how far it is? It was 20-25 minutes away and I wanted to jump out of bus to catch a ride back but at this hour it was neither safe nor a very good option. The driver realized I was travelling by myself so he tried to help me out by dropping me in a safe place (it was the next town) and called the other bus driver from the same company who was supposed to go to Byron Bay via this place. I waited for one hour near this beautiful little town called Brunswick Head from about 6:30 AM to 7:30 AM.
It was cold but I managed to walk to the nearby river and get some nice shots before I realized that my shoes were wet with the dew on the grass. I looked at the sky and asked – What’s next? Hit me with a lightning now. I was angry at myself to miss the Ballooning today not knowing how the weather would be the next day. I was angry at myself to stand in this cold weather where not many options were available in the town even to get some hot coffee at this hour. But an hour passed quickly now that I think about it and I caught the bus while the driver knew me as the girl who slept and missed her station. Yes, that makes me a little famous now. But you know what I wasn’t wrong when I was thinking everything happens for a reason, and you will find out soon why.
I got to my hostel which was way too far and even after getting lost on the way (as the road on which the hostel was located was not in the map I had with me), I managed to get there before 8: 30 AM with the help of some really nice locals. And after getting there I found the reception is closed and many people are waiting there including a couple whom I saw in the bus with me. I wished if they could have waked me up in Byron Bay station but of course they might not have known my station. Finally the manager of the hostel came and told everyone that he is still hung over and just found out that there is no one at the reception. When it was my turn to check in, I end up having a decent conversation with him as he felt a little bit embarrassed with the whole situation at the reception with so many people waiting to check in. He felt relaxed and I felt better after talking to someone in a light manner in spite of having a really bad morning. What happens next? How the day gets better and better? Yes, I am still writing that and want you to have this first part till then. I will be back with the awesome day after this soon my lovely friend.
Yes it sounds gross to talk about throwing up and it is best not to discuss about it when you are going through some windy weather in a small boat for diving. Believe me it does make you throw up at the end. It was the day I was going for my dive in Great Barrier Reef and it was a 2.5 hours journey to get there by boat. I started talking to this American guy who was afraid of getting sick and in process of telling him various ways not to get sick I myself started feeling sick. Eventually I went to the front of the boat to look at the horizon (well known technique to stop you from throwing up). And soon there was almost a bunch of people who joined me and here is a picture that I took as it was the first time I found so many people all getting sick at the same time. And the people inside the boat were not in the great shape either almost half of the people were holding a bag to make sure they don’t get throw up inside the boat after listening to the embarrassing stories told by the guide in the boat. Anyways I guess getting sick is part of travel as well. There are few things that you can do as a precaution not to get sick but if you do then just better to throw up and move on to enjoy your holiday/trip and not to screw rest of it if possible.
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 🙂