Colombo, Chilaw, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya
23.12.2011 - 04.01.2012
Colombo: The hustle and bustle of Colombo was music to my ears after the comparatively orderly Malaysia. Staying in my friends apartment in Dehiwala was a good way to get a taste of local life. Each morning began with a walk up the beach, past the shanty fishing huts to the majestic Mt Lavinia Hotel and back again, stopping to purchase fresh coconut to quench the thirst.
Chilaw and Bangadeniya: I would strongly advise escaping the tourists and getting a taste of Sri Lankan countryside by hopping on a train and just heading to nowhere in particular. In the end my friend and I chose Chilaw, a beach town worlds apart from it's resorty neighbour Negombo.
We visited an old friend of his in Bangadeniya for a home cooked meal, toured a coconut plantation and manufacturing centre, ambled down dirt tracks and smiled back at every friendly face that greeted us ( the whole town I believe).We stayed at a place called Jeni Rock hotel and ate the best, BEST Sri Lankan breakfast ever.
Sigiriya: Is it worth the $30 US entry fee? Well that depends on the individual travellers budget and tastes. Personally I thought the view from the top was perhaps the best thing about ascending the giant Sigiriya rock. It is certainly an impressive archaeological discovery, although if you have already been to Angkor Watt you may be a little underwhelmed. There are different schools of though as to what Sigiriya was, locals will stand by the King kassapa theory, but new theory ( supported by archaeological evidence) argues that it was in fact a Buddhist monastery.
Dambulla: After clambering up the rocky path to the Cave temples in Dambulla, I found myself gazing in awe at beautifully painted and carved buddhas (150 images in total). There are five caves here and they are definitely awesome. It's very easy to combine a trip to Sigiriya with a trip to the Dambulla caves. I set off early on the local bus to Sigiriya and stayed overnight at the kitsch "Flower Inn", climbed the rock in the late afternoon ( with minimal crowds), and visited Dambulla the next day on my way back to Sigiriya. A tip is to leave your big bag in Kandy and just take a small overnight pack up to Sigiriya. Chances are you will probably have to come back to Kandy anyway, so leave it at your guesthouse or hotel after making a reservation for the night you will return.
Kandy: Kandy is a pretty enough town, set round a lake. It's a good base for doing day trips or before catching buses or trains elsewhere.