This is the final video in the series!
This one was mainly B roll from my phone! So enjoy these final extracts from my trip of the lagoons and other magical Sri Lankan Moments!
This is the final video in the series!
This one was mainly B roll from my phone! So enjoy these final extracts from my trip of the lagoons and other magical Sri Lankan Moments!
When we were ready to leave Kandy and head back to Colombo we were getting the train!
This was something we had all been really looking forward too as for starters it wasn’t the coach! And it was a long old coach ride back, so to get the train was a nice refresher.
The journey was about 3/4 hours long and was one long journey straight into Colombo, although we got off at a station before and got on the coach from there which made sense as that train was BUSY.
It was definitely an awesome experience.
Being 20+ students we did our best to not be seated together, although 12 of us girls decided to sit together in once space. As we were getting on at Kandy we all managed to get a seat, it was bliss, books out, eating our food.
Mel and myself even brought chocolate milk of one of the vendors walking down the isles of the train pushing through the masses of people that eventually got on the train.
Being comfortable and spacious went from being crowded, hot and cramped very, very quickly. I practically had a woman’s child sat on my knees at one point. Although it was a great experience, people hanging out of the doors whilst the train was moving. The seats were comfy and I wasn’t in any discomfort minus the heat the entire trip! Definitely worth it!
Just to get off the train I had to push myself through the masses and masses of people, clinging on to my stuff for dear life. El lost her shoe down the side of the train at the station so we had to wait for the train to leave and someone retrieved her shoe for her!
It was a really fun experience and you can see all the footage here!
This day was a free day and we very much enjoyed relaxing and it was also SAREE DAY!
I had been so excited for this day the moment I got my Saree at the start of the trip. My Saree was light and dark blue and made of the most beautiful silk. I had a nice blue crop top to put underneath my top half and a mesh skirt to wear underneath by skirt!
The ladies arrived and it was fitting time!
We were brought into one of the rooms in the hotel and with our saree’s in hand it was hair pin and safety pin time! They used so many safety and hair pins to keep my saree secured and in place and I felt so elegant and beautiful once I was all dressed!
Once everyone was in their saree’s it was time for our final dinner of the trip!
We headed down to Mahaweli Reach for dinner!
This hotel is a beautiful 4 star hotel who hosted us all. A buffet dinner with Sri Lankan cuisine as well as english cuisine on offer for the buffet. There was also a singer for some live music, we are served wine and juice and it was all laughs and bliss.
There was many photo opportunities between us girls and It really made me excited and realise that I had been the whole trip surrounded by some of the most beautiful people I have been so lucky to learn and grow with since starting university. I couldn’t be more grateful for a beautiful bunch of girls.
Enjoy some saree pictures from our last night!
Once the dinner was finished it was TO THE BAR.
Licence to Grill where we had visited beforehand had said the would host us for a party with alcohol even though it wasn’t allowed to stay open past a certain time nor serve alcohol! Every time the police came past the lights were turned off and the music was turned down it was great fun.
As we trekked to the top floor bar and restaurant we were ready to go and enjoyed some drinks and music on the rooftop on our last night. The right way to spend the last night.
Train Journeys Back to Colombo and unfortunate final goodbyes in the next blog post!
In this video we conquered Sri Pada, or Adams Peak! And then we got a train back to Negombo which was an experience and a half!
Please do enjoy the end of our trip below!
YAAAAS WE CLIMBED A FUCK OF HUGE MOUNTAIN!!!!
Climbing Adams Peak was definitely one of the larger achievements in life
check the video below for a real insight into how it was!
With over 5000 steps, it one was hell of a walk up there!
We got on the bus about 10pm at night from Kandy and drove for a good 3 hours towards Adams Peak. It was already late, we knew we weren’t sleeping as some of the mountain roads we were driving down in a massive coach were enough to make you think this it, we are going over the edge!
Once we arrived at the Ratnapura district, Sri Pada it was 1:30am and we were ready to go, almost. It was a 1-2km walk just from the bus station to the start of the hike! So we got there at about 2am and had a little warm up. There were endless shops on the way to the entrance to stock up on snacks and water!
Once we made it to the start it was a beautiful big archway with the Buddha laying down. Sri Pada stands for the ‘Footprint of the Buddha’ as it is believed that the stone at the top of the mountain has what looks like a footprint from the Buddha himself making the site an incredibly popular pilgrimage walk.
You must have your shoulders covered and your legs covered for the walk, I did have to change into my hareem trousers as I started in my walking shorts! Can’t get to the top in those! Plus everyone around me was laughing at me so I think that was a significant sign. We walked in groups to keep the bravado up and it worked a treat, we all made it so much farther up than we thought we would.
After a good 4 hours of climbing we had made it as close to the top as we could possible get. It was absolutely rammed and a traffic jam on a staircase was enough to give anyone vertigo. So we managed to stop on a ledge where we had the most perfect view of the valley and the reserve below with two Buddha statues seated politely behind us.
It really was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I am so over the moon we conquered it. We sat at 6am and watched the sunrise come up over the valley and man, it was emotional (mainly because we had smashed it and we had had like no sleep to get here). I really have never experienced anything like it, it made me ready to go and conquer another mountain.
Walking down wasn’t any easier! Because it was a constant uphill it means it’s a constant downhill. My legs every time we stopped were shaking and like jelly! I did wonder if I was going to collapse and roll down the mountain at one point. The girls were all linking arms and trying to skip down the stairs together at the same time to keep the memento going.
Getting back to the bus once we got to the bottom, taking off my shoes for starters and just sitting down was amazing. I had brought a pillow and managed to sleep the entire way home luckily! After a climb like that, who wouldn’t?
Once we got back and had freshened up we had a SHOW to attend!
We had been invited to the Kandayan Show of Culuture!
At their local theatre we all piled in for an hour long show of traditional dances, outfits and performances! It was amazing to watch and their music and dancing is so extravagant and like nothing I had ever seen before. My favourite parts were the woman’s outfits and the men breathing fire!
We listened to their ceremonial drums, saw peacock dancers, traditional folk dancers, harvest dances and finally,
Although we didn’t get the option to do it ourselves, thank god!
Afterwards was another home comfort dinner at Sky Lounge after a busy old day and an early night ahead! Tune in for our final night in my next post!
Our day heading into Colombo City!
I realise I got a bit too keen and posted about how we had headed to Kandy before I was finished with the posts from Colombo, so, Enjoy!
We all jumped on the bus the next morning and headed our way into Colombo, Sri Lanka!
The plans for the day were to visit and explore Colombo, see some of the beautiful city follow by our visit to the disaster management centre and also a vegetarian lunch!
When we arrived in Colombo we all piled off the bus and went exploring through the city streets. As per usual it was sweltering and IT WAS CARNAGE, there were tuk tuks everywhere, the traffic regulations seems to be basic non-existent. We wandered through the streets, endless bikes lined up rows upon rows and loads of stalls selling every day necessities lined the walls of the streets!
We headed into a closed market area and walked between and the stalls selling clothing, toys and little trinkets, water bottles and much more! We all stocked up on toys for our future visits to the orphanages and we also felt that buying from the market stalls was more beneficial for those who were running the stalls as well.
There was people everywhere and although we were in a group of 8 we managed to get our way through the busy streets together!
Once we were finished within the markets we jumped BACK on the buss and headed to Independence Square and the arcade centre.
Heading from the centre of Colombo markets to Independence square was a complete change in scenery and we had only literally jumped back on the bus for about half an hour, you crossed over a bridge and the skyline shot upwards.
All the beautiful buildings, apartment blocks and hotels, there is even a man made ocean area on the coast of the city which they’re trying to get together after the Tsunami. I wish we had gone to the Pettah floating market, that would’ve been really cool.
Independence square & memorial hall features a fountain topped with a statue and Sri Lankan flags! Beautiful lion statues and steps, plenty of open space and was built to commemorate the Sri Lankan independence from the British Rule! There is also an independence square museum but we didn’t have enough time to head into it.
Then behind the Independence square is the Independence Square Arcade. The most beautiful and pristine shopping area I had seen so far on our Sri Lanka trip. All the buildings were pristine white with arched windows and walk ways. There were designer shops and restaurants as well as plenty of trees and greenery!
After a lovely wonder around the shopping centre and independence square it was time for some lunch!
We headed to a vegetarian restaurant called Sri Vihar!
We had our own private area for our group in the upstairs area of the restaurant and we managed to get a booth that seated about 8-10 of us!
This lunch consisted of Fried mushrooms, Dhal dishes, lentils, vegetable curry dishes and naan, all different types of rices and even some fish dishes. The food was definitely up there with some of the best food we had had so far on the trip. I was always so impressed wherever we ate!
Once our bellies were full it was the final stop of the day!
The Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre
Visiting the Disaster Management centre really did feel like a privilege.
As we walked inside we were ushered to the meeting/conference room where we were given cartons of chocolate milk whilst we waited for the 2 gentlemen from the centre to give us a presentation on the crisis and disaster threats that effect Sri Lanka on a regular basis and how they go about getting out their warnings and their defences.
It was incredibly interested heading upstairs into the centre and seeing where they monitor all the major storms, earthquakes and tsunamis in Sri Lanka. We also saw and learnt where all the signal point were for the tsunami warnings and monitors for the earthquakes around the country. We had the pleasure of seeing their comms centre and because of all we got to see we also got a tour of the building.
It was a real privilege to be able to see everything we did in the government building. I have every hope that with everything they have including knowledge and skills they will be able to make sure what happened in 2004 never happens again.
Sri Lanka really gets battered by heavy storms which bring heavy rain fall which bring landslides, earthquakes that cause tsunami’s, incredible heat waves. They have an incredible amount to conquer so to be able to see how they do this and how they monitor and prevent these things was really interesting.
This was our last day in Colombo, the next day we would be heading to Kandy and journey involves lots of elephants! Stay tuned!
THE ROAD TRIP TO KANDY BEGINS!
We knew we had a long old journey ahead of us on the coach to Kandy, I believe from Colombo we are looking at a 5-6 hour journey with a coach full of sleepy and hungry students in this absolute heat.
Luckily for us Martin had planned to split the journey up with 3 pit stops on the way.
Pit stop number one?
THE MILLENNIUM ELEPHANT FOUNDATION!
We had been driving for about 3 or 4 hours when we arrived at The Pinnawala Elephant foundation!
There is a huge difference between orphanages, freedom sanctuaries and foundations. Each place is different but where we were the elephants were able to roam and wander. I have always found it a difficult situation for such beautiful creatures to be around!
We bathed with these elephants and gave them a good scrub down, saw where they slept each night and watched as they wondered around the area whilst a member of staff followed them around. They had chains around their neck, but these weren’t tight, and they weren’t being pulled on.
They were free to roam, but, with these on. Although it wasn’t nice to see it was better than being tightly chained and prodded And jabbed, unable to move at all. They are being rehabilitated, whereas the elephant orphanage down the road had the most terrible reputation. It’s such a touchy and difficult situation but I loved seeing the elephants none the less!
Some of my course mates rode the elephants because you had the opportunity to! For me I don’t agree with this but everyone is different. To be able to feed them their fruit and stand beside them and have pictures with my girls was an experience and a half, I am so glad it did it.
The elephants at this sanctuary will be released back into the wild once rehabilitated. One elephant was a log puller whilst another one came from a circus, better than where they were beforehand. I am really grateful I got to experience this with the girlies!
LUNCH AT PINNAWALA REACH!
Pinnawala Reach for lunch was really tasty, this was a lovely buffet at the Pinnawala Reach hotel so you can stay overnight if you wish!
This backed onto a stream and where you could see the elephants in the trees behind the restaurant. This was just around the corner from the Millennium Sanctuary and the food was SO Tasty. Another great stop to the trip to break up the long journey.
ST JOHNS BOYS SCHOOL
Before we arrived in Kandy we had to stop at St Johns Boys school, where these boys were brought up and taught and lived here. This was incredibly sad visiting this orphanage but also really heart warming.
We brought toys for the kids and they did a big show for us by singing and dancing on stage, we then swapped over and performed the cha cha slide for them and then the Macarena and a few other nursery rhymes. We blew bubbles and ate custard creams and tried some of their tea. They showed us to their dorm rooms and showed us their beds, their tiny mattresses and it really just broke my heart.
They were the happiest of boys and it was so lovely to spend time with them. They showed us their church and where they pray and then we played volleyball in a circle in their play area together. I definitely shed a tear, and it left me with food for thought.
ARRIVAL at KANDY CITY MISSION
We arrived at Kandy City Mission in the evening time which means we were to head out and explore for some dinner!
But before we could do that we had to climb up 4 flights of stairs to get to our bedroom! Me, Mel and El were all sharing a room which was nice, spacious and basic! 3 single beds with duvet and a pillow, an en suite with a shower and all the trimmings! It was perfect for our stay and we weren’t there long. We also had a balcony as well so we could step outside if the room was too warm or we could let some air in!
We had multiple pets for the duration of our stay including Gary the Gecko who lived in the shower and a lovely cockroach that we very quickly murdered in a plastic cup (sorry mate).
DINNER at the SKY LOUNGE
So after much exploring of Kandy restaurants, wandering up and down the same road, getting lost even following maps and taking a weak lift up to the top of a building that DEFINITELY wasn’t where we were supposed to be! We eventually found our way to the Sky Lounge!
For us I believe this felt like home comforts, Pizza, spring rolls and pasta dishes, your basic english food could be very easily purchased and I think after a full day of travel we just wanted something familiar and it was nice and not to expensive, easy to find too once you knew where you were going!
After a long old journey from Negombo to Kandy we were glad to have arrived and certainly slept well afterwards!
Stay tuned for our adventures and exploring Kandy!
We were finally recovered from travel and getting into Crisis and Disaster mode! Our first trip was to the Negombo Lagoons.
What are these Lagoons?
The water comes in from a small entry up the north of the lagoons and assists with the grasslands, fish markets, rice paddies and coconut plantations! It is populated by puppies, lizards, snakes, monkeys and so many small sand crabs you had to be careful where you stood. Some of the lagoon is so shallow you could jump out the boat and stand up at ankle deep in the middle of this huge body of water. Typically with so many canals, it was created by the Dutch!
There are fishing boats all the way throughout the lagoons and bridges over the water with fishermen hanging of the bridge too, fish markets and general food markets are so reliant on the fresh produce the fisherman are always hard at work each day!
We were in convoy with 4 boats and 6-8 people to a boat, we were out on the lagoons for over an hour exploring the waters, watching the fishermen and getting to grips with the sheer size of the lagoons! We pulled up to the trees to feed the monkeys bananas and let them climb all over and in our boats, they were so cute as were all the puppies and dogs that were also inhabiting the lagoons!
These Lagoons are still affected by the 2004 Tsunami today. There are still abandoned boats, you can still see the debris and houses that have been ruined and abandoned too, it’s eye opening. Especially when your Lagoon boat driver was in the Tsunami himself. I was incredibly pleased to hear he managed to save his family by running up to higher ground. The fact he returned to continue working on the lagoon once more baffled me, but he was brave and I have a lot of respect for that. I’m sure it is a heartbreaking thing to experience.
Agarukaramula Temple & School!
This was awesome. I had never been to a Buddhist temple so this was right on my bucket list! We were planning on having lunch with a family that our course leader had met in unusual and really quite interesting circumstances on the Lagoon! (But that’s another story for Martin to tell). But before we could enjoy some traditional Sri Lankan food we headed to the Agarukaramula Temple and school!
Naturally before you enter a temple you must remove your shoes so there were an array of flip flops and sandals left outside the temple which was huge and beautiful with the Buddha stood tall above the temple. We were greeted by young children in their white school uniform waving down to us from the raised balcony below the Buddha, they were adorable and excited to see us.
When we went inside you had to pay 1000 Rupees to receive a booklet that took you through the temple painting by painting. If you didn’t purchase the booklet then they did not allow you in which was a little frustrating at first for the group but I decided I was unsure if I was ever going to be here again so I bought the booklet for myself and Mel and we went on inside. For situations like this I felt it would also help their funding and it was an experience for us none less.
The paintings inside were beautiful and it was really interesting going painting to painting and Buddha to Buddha learning about how he became THE Buddha. I never thought I would have to opportunity to go into a temple on this trip so it was really interesting and I have kept the booklet too! It is now stuck confidently inside my scrapbook! The best part was the men were repainting the artwork on the wall of the Buddha whilst we were inside.
We headed over to the school afterwards although we couldn’t spend to long there as we were getting the children in trouble for distracting them in their classes. They were all really shy and quite fascinated, especially because a few of us had go pros including myself and we were all wearing colourful harem trousers and the boys in their sarongs. What was great to see them enjoying classes taken outside and how smart (and adorable) they all looked in their uniform!
Heading to the Fernando Family…
The Fernando family lived along the lagoon and all together in their house. If you went into their back garden it backed out onto what is the lagoon, it was really beautiful and it made you wonder if it was something lucky to have to back onto the lagoon which I guess in their case it was as they could use the lagoon to get to where they needed to go if not via motor and also fishing too!
Now they lived down a mile long road which our coach was unable to go down so we had to walk which was really lovely as it was hot and we got a real taste for the local community in that area. Kids were playing and waving and the heat was beautiful. The walk wouldn’t have been so bad… If I hadn’t ripped all the skin of the front my big toe!
If you’re squeamish skip this part to the next part!
The speedbumps along the road are angled, a little like this /“\. So naturally we are walking along, its hot, we’re all gasbagging like we do and I am totally not paying attention, FYI I’ve got flip flops on. I tripped over the bump and was like oops and just carried on walking, I didnt feel anything until I realised my flip flop was awfully sticky.
YUUUUUP that was blood, I had scraped the skin back from the front of my toe and it was just flapping off whilst bleeding quite a bit. I just stood there quite happy we were nearly at their house with blood on the pavement and on my shoe. I placed a plaster on it for now and took a seat on the pavement to give it a good clean. I felt more comfortable wrapping my fat toe up at their house.
Once I arrived a good 5 minutes later than everyone else I sat down the step of their house to make good of what I could with my toe. Best believe I managed to keep it completely clean and uninfected for the ENTIRE TRIP. I even climbed a mountain and it was fine, those 4 years of lifeguarding did ya girl good.
The Fernando Family cooked us up the most beautiful Sri Lankan curries and afterwards we had fresh fruit! They were so tasty and flavoursome. I am certain I had some of the best food I have ever had out there. So fresh and tasty, so many new flavours that I had never tried before.
We went into their back garden afterwards as they had TORTOISES and we could totally hold them! I had never held a tortoise before so that was pretty cool, you had to hold their shells as naturally there wasn’t really anywhere else you could hold without getting munched down on by Mr tortoise! We also had a little gander at the decking that lead out on to the lagoon that they had access too.
Once we had had this beautifully busy day we decided with some of the afternoon still to kill we headed straight back to the Camelot hotel, relaxed by the pool, ordered dinner by the pool and watched another absolutely beautiful Sri Lankan sunset from the beach. These sunsets were definitely some that I will never forget.
Tomorrow was going to full of exploring Colombo, visiting the Sri Lankan Government Disaster management centre and more good food.
IT IS FINALLY HERE
NEED I SAY MORE?
OUR TRIP TO SRI LANKA PART 1/4
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