Greetings from Sri Lanka, the country known to have the friendliest people in the world!
We chose to backpack around Sri Lanka because we thought it’d be similar to Myanmar – which we visited earlier this year – and I’m so happy to see that it is. Sri Lanka offers a variety of things: buddhist temples, breathtaking nature, wildlife and great local food. The size of Sri Lanka is only a third of Finland but has a population of an astonishing 22 million people.
In the beginning we cruised through some small towns to settle in properly and afterwards we boarded a train in Colombo designated to arrive in Kandy, the previous capital of Sri Lanka.
Kandy is an authentic South-Asian city, which we fell in love with. It has plenty of restaurants to go to like The Empire and Cafe Walk (I can be a pretty difficult person to feed as I can’t eat spicy food and Sri Lankan food is spicy 99% of the time…) We were happy to realise that sightseeing is pretty easy around Kandy because there are lots of buses – and I mean LOTS! Less people drive individual cars and take the bus instead because it’s cheap and, well, easier to get around with. If something isn’t within a walking distance, you can just ask a local person for the right bus and simply hop on it! We chose to visit the Botanical Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth and a British colonial graveyard from the 19th century. Also our host in our homestay was kind enough to book us tickets to the local traditional performance, so we got to see some pretty cool acts!
Accommodation: Comfort Home Stay (7e/night)
Favourite restaurant: The Empire (vegetarian friendly)
After two nights in Kandy we wanted to hit the countryside (above) and so we took an A/C bus to Dambulla (to fellow travellers: it’s not a myth, it exists!) in order to get closer to the prehistoric sights in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. On our first proper day we visited the most famous sight in Sri Lanka: the Lion Rock in Sigirya. The reason why it’s called Lion Rock is because the lion was supposed to remind people who Buddha was, sending a message as powerful as the sound of a lion’s roar. And now only it’s paws are left. With a real name of Sigirya Rock, the Unesco World Heritage Site was inhabited in prehistoric times. A story tells that King Kassapa (AD 477-495) chose Sigiriya to be the capital of Sri Lanka (477 AD), and built a palace with a garden on top of the rock after killing his father King Dhatusena. The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the King’s death, and was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. When climbing to the top of the rock (oh yes, we climbed on top of it! See pictures below) you are also able to see some amazing cave paintings believed to be representing Tara – one of the most important figures in Tantric Buddhism.
We also travelled from Dambulla to Polonnaruwa, another ancient capital (circa 1000 AD) and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Polonnaruwa holds the monumental ruins of the astonishing garden-city created by the South Indian Chola dynasty in the 12th century. It reached it’s glory under the reign of King Vijayabahu I but in the early 13th century the glory was fading, it was abandoned, and the capital moved to the western side of the island where Colombo is today.
PS Whilst getting “tuk-tukked” around these historical sights, we managed to see absolutely amazing grey langur monkeys and even some elephants! Just a normal day in Sri Lanka!?
Accommodation: Girilena Resort (15e/night)
Favourite restaurant: The Heritage (vegetarian friendly)