Monday, 3 March 2014

Sri Lanka 2, with iPhoneography

Sunset from Balcony, Kandalama.
This post was started when I just got back. It's taken a while!


I have been invalided from work today so I sit here swilling hydrolyte and watering myself back to glowing good health.

Anywho here are some further reflections on Sri Lanka

Heidi to answer your question, yes, Nuwara Eliya is a very British colonial town. The Post Office and the Grand Hotel are great examples of some colonial architecture.

Other things we did
  • We climbed up Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an ancient palace up a 200 metre high rock, designed about 2000 years ago. It was beautiful, with views, frescoes and moats. All the rocks and equipment were hauled up there not by slaves but my free men. 
  • Saw the Buddhist temple which has Buddha's tooth in Kandy, then met with some locals.
  • Went hiking in the Knuckles mountain range
  • We went on a bike ride of some villages and met some of the locals.
  • clocked a lot of time in the car, but seeing beautiful coastline, high country tea plantations, busy towns and everything in between.
Some impressions

The wildlife - native and not so native

As I have already alluded to, Sri Lanka has beautiful and diverse wildlife, which we got to see up very close. I mentioned Yala National Park, which was concentrated with such wildlife. On our long car journeys, it was not unusual for our driver to stop suddenly and point out a native bird sitting on the telephone wire.

What I have not mentioned is the canine life. As you will all know I am a dog lover. But these domestic pets in Sri Lanka are different to the ones at home.

I call them the kamikaze dogs.
They sit on the road where it is warm and pay no mind to the cars, which usually swerve for them.
They will sometimes run out in front of a car and bark at it.
If you are riding past on a bike, they will bark at you, too.
If there is a little pothole that looks comfy, even if is a place with lots of foot traffic, they will sleep in there. If you step on them, they will probably bite you.  They look healthy, short of being a bit small and skinny. Some of the strays have quite bad mange.
They are not friendly dogs. Some may accept a pat, but none of them solicit one.
They are no recognisable breed. The girl dogs all look like they have borne more than one litter of puppies. Most of them have owners, and they are probably the only humans the dog respects.

Even more wily are the macaques. They are everywhere. Everyone thinks they are cute but they can be vicious little buggers. They will bite and scratch. In Kandalama, we stayed on a hillside forest, which had lots of monkeys. We had to lock our balcony doors, otherwise they will come in and ransack the room. They are quite fun to watch from a distance, and see how they play and interact. They have little playfights. They are very agile. Once, at a temple, some men were eating their lunch, and a monkey was sitting on a tree branch above them, ready to dive-bomb the lunch.

The food

Similar to South Indian food. Very heavy on the coconut and spices. With lots of European tourists, the chefs make pains to tell people which food is spicy, and seem proud when they have made their food bland.
Pah! Very little there was too hot for me to eat.
They have lots of fake Chinese food. A bit of (north) Indian. The main Italian food there is Pizza Hut. They have the rare KFC and McDonalds.

Some of my favourite dishes were Hoppers (rice pancakes), Wattalapam (a coconut milk pudding), Jaggery (coconut sugar), Kottu Roti (Shredded roti stir-fried with meat and vegetables) and most of the curries. My favourite curry was actually at one of the less fancy hotels - the chef was there and patiently and proudly told everyone which curry was which.

People watching...

I did not see a woman who did not look elegant. Not in the made up, coutured, groomed way. They nearly all had long hair, which was neatly tied back. They all wore skirts and tops which looked in good order. They wore jewellery. They carried umbrellas to cover themselves in the sun. They looked feminine.
I saw some very very beautiful women wearing very very beautiful sarees.
Smiles were returned, graciously.
The men would often smile and nod, in a slightly macho but not cocky way. It was kind of endearing.
People rarely raise their voice.
I always got called Madam. Even by our driver. I tried to get him to use my name but Madam it always was.


Sri Lanka is a small country, so one might surmise that it does not take long to get around.
Not true.
After 30 years of civil war, ending in 2009, infrastructure is only just catching up. Also remember that it is a country of 20 million people on a very small island.
So on a single lane motorway, there are big buses, lorries, Motorcycles (some carrying whole families), Tuk Tuks, cycles, pedestrians and cars. All of them trying to get somewhere.
Hence crossing the double lines is very common.
Games of chicken are common.
Everyone is patient - there are naturally lots of errors are made but nobody gets aggressive. Nobody flips the bird. Horns are used as an alert rather than in anger.

And here are some photos!
Hornbills, Yala National Park

feeding a baby elephant.

Inquisitive wild boar, Yala National Park
chef, proudly pointing out which curry was which.
Land Monitor - Big Lizard/ very small dinosaur
Just Hanging out (of the bus, while in motion on intercity run)
2 day old Turtle Hatchling - Squeeeee!

fishing boat, near galle.

The morning's catch.
Some Saree action - no photos allowed in store.


  1. I am mesmerised by saris. I nearly bought one to get married after my beautiful friend (who is Indian wore her bridal sari)! The food looks amazing. I agree very few curries are too hot for me. The animal action would scare me though! I reckon I would be a magnet for those monkeys! Coincidently just read a story about Sri Lanka and developing tourism.
    Keep hydrating. Get back on your feet soon!
    Lovely post, you are so kind and sensitive (I can tell!)
    PS won't hear a bad word said re IPhone photos!!! Lol. Xx

  2. So envious you went to Sri Lanka - it is the one country I would like to visit. I love their food too. I also wonder why when the traffic is so much more orderly in comparison that people in the West get so much road rage and in Asia where it is crazy people just shrug their shoulders!

  3. Cilla!!

    Hope you are on the mend.

    Thank you for the lovely armchair travels this afternoon.

    SSG xxx

  4. oh the turtle and baby elephant are so cute!
    I love the food in Sri Lanka - I became obsessed with fish curry when we were there.
    I remember the dogs, too. I am a bit scared of dogs so found some of them a bit menacing.

  5. Oh I so want to visit Sri Lanka. The food sounds unreal - Kottu roti!! x