Sri Lanka: Final Days

A couple days before we climbed Adam's Peak we returned to the hill country around Haputale and wandered around the tea plantations. After the climb we beelined it to the west and south coast beaches once more to give our legs a well-deserved rest. One month before we were on the same beaches and enjoyed nearly deserted towns and sands, but this time they were packed with holidaying tourists. The rooms where we once paid 1000 rupees for the night were now asking 10,000, but luckily we made some good friends on our first visit who gave us a sweet room at a bargain price. We rented a motorbike again and toured around the coast from Hikkaduwa to the beaches near Koggala where we watched the famous stilt fishermen perform their craft (which evidently is now posing for pictures for tourists). Nonetheless, it was nice to see and the setting was beautiful. We then followed the fringe of the southern coast before heading north back into the hill country yet again. Our third time in the hill country was much the same as the previous two in terms of crap weather. The monsoon rains and winds returned for a second round of destruction. We stayed one night in Haputale and were forced to evacuate the next morning. The town was getting pounded with sustained 100 kilometer per hour winds and could have blown off the mountainside at any moment. Nuwara Eliya was where we ended up that afternoon and from there we organized transport to take us to the Horton Plains early the next morning. Horton Plains is both a national park and an Unesco World Heritage site which means that the entrance fees are grossly overpriced. The 9.5 km “World's End” circuit is a scenic hike though, even if the views from World's End might not blow your mind. We were lucky enough to have perfect weather on our hike which is highly unusual even at the best of times. The park is home to purple face leaf monkeys (a.k.a. bear monkeys), sambar deer, and even a few leopards. We didn't see any leopards, but we did see plenty of sambar grazing on the plains, a few bear monkeys, a pair of giant squirrels, and even a pissed-off civet cat who had trapped itself in a garbage bin. After we got back to Nuwara Eliya, we grabbed our packs and took the next bus back to Kandy. There we spent the next four days- our last four days in Sri Lanka. We got our India visas, booked our onward flight and generally got stuff sorted out. Despite what everyone is saying on the Internet, it is possible to get a six month India visa when applying in Sri Lanka- we got ours! But, our time in Kandy wasn't all business. We did take in a Kandyan dance performance and wandered around the surreal corridors and rooms of one of the most bizarre hotels of the world- Helga's Folly. Nearly every square inch of its walls are decorated with colorful murals, vintage family photos, magazine and newspaper articles, and mirrors reflecting the rooms general hodgepodge and mishmash. Salvador Dali would feel right at home here! Eclectic, eccentric, surreal, inspiring, and at times, even creepy, Helga's Folly is by far one of the most interesting, and no doubt the most unique, sights in Kandy.

So then, in pictures, this is what our final week in Sri Lanka looked like…

Tamil tea plucker near Talawakelle

Portrait of a Tamil tea plucker

Stilt fisherman near Koggala

The beach at Koggala

On the Horton Plains

The crazy world of Helga's Folly, Kandy

Self portrait(s), Helga's Folly

 

So, our 42 days in Sri Lanka have come to a close. Here are some final observations on our time spent here. For such a small country we were amazed to find such diversity in landscapes and abundance of wildlife. Golden beaches, lush jungles, rugged mountains, hundreds of square kilometers of tea covered hills, grassy plains and dense forests- Sri Lanka has it all. And again, for such a small nation, they have a very rich and proud history and the ancient sites scattered throughout the island prove this well. The Sri Lankan people are as friendly and welcoming as they come and we made some wonderful connections with the people over here. This is an extremely easy and safe country to travel in and offers such a variety of things to see and do. We loved every minute of our time here and I know already that there will come a day when Sri Lanka calls us back.

 

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