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We spent the day travelling along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, stopping to snap some photos of the stilt fisherman before visiting the UNESCO listed Galle Fort which was founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century and has since been added to by Dutch and British colonists.
I had visited Jurong Bird Park 25 years earlier and loved it, I wanted to return to see if the passing of time had romanticised my memories. Sadly, some of the birds were in enclosures that I would say have not been updated for years and had wire meshing that made it hard to clearly see the birds. I did enjoy the visit but I don’t think I will be going back again.
A morning trip on the Ganges to see the devotees bathing – the fog made this difficult. The weather cleared and we spent the afternoon exploring the ghats.
For most people visiting Sri Lanka the country’s capital, Colombo is not high on their list of places to visit. That said it is worth a day to hit the few tourist attractions that the city has to offer and simply wander the streets of some of its more historic districts.
Our second day in Varanasi started with a more in-depth exploration of Hindu culture, including a visit to the New Vishwanath Temple at Banaras Hindu University and several other temples in the Varanasi area. In the afternoon we visited the weaver district where most of Varanasi’s famous silk is manufactured. This a poor and primarily muslim district and work conditions are horrible. Later in the day we ventured into one of the city’s main bazaars.
When planning our trip to India I was determined to visit Varanasi, the holiest of cities for Hindus on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. I had seen countless TV programmes and read many stories about Varanasi but I wanted to see it for myself.
We had the chance to spend a day exploring the beach towns and attractions north of Galle along Sri Lanka’s south-west coast. This included taking a river safari, a sea turtle hatchery, a tsunami memorial and a gemstone mine.
We have had the opportunity to go on several whale tours over the years and have loved every minute. Sadly, the tour we took from Mirissa in Sri Lanka was put if frankly horrible due to the unpleasant way that the flotilla of tour boats stalked and hounded the poor whales.
Yala National Park is a large wildlife conservation area found in the south-east of Sri Lanka bordering the beautiful Indian Ocean. It is a fabulous place to see all sorts of wildlife, birds and reptiles. What it is best known for are leopards and is the best place to view these timid big cats in the wild.
On a previous visit to Singapore, I had visited the Botanical Gardens and the image of these amazing UNESCO listed verdant gardens had stuck with me over many years. So, when we returned to Singapore I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to revisit the gardens.
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka and is home to 700 elephants. We had come to Udawalawe not to go on another safari but to visit the Elephant Transit Home, a facility that takes care of orphaned elephant calves.
The train ride from the highlands of Sri Lanka to Ella is one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world. Once in Ella, we recommend climbing to the top Little Adams Peak to enjoy the sun setting over the famous Ella Gap.
Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. It is one of the most popular outings when staying in the Highlands city of Nuwara Eliya. There is a pleasant 6-mile hike with some spectacular views at the World’s End viewpoint.
Ceylon Tea is known throughout the World and is grown extensively in the Highlands of Sri Lanka. We visited the Damro Labookellie Tea Factory to see how tea is processed and sampled some of the tea, before heading to the hill city of Nuwara Eliya.
Ambuluwawa is a biodiversity complex and Sri Lanka’s first multi-religious sanctuary situated in the central highlands of the country. From the top of the Ambuluwawa Mountain, there are spectacular views across the valleys and highland mountains. The complex has an interesting tower that can be climbed with caution and some small temples representing the religions of Sri Lanka.
When visiting India’s capital city you simply must explore the somewhat crazy and super busy area of Old Delhi. The main sites include the Great Mosque and the UNESCO listed Red Fort. We also stopped to pay homage at the tomb of Gandhi and visited the famous India Gate.
Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka., set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforests. It is a bustling city and was the last capital of the Sinhala kings until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. Today, it is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dambulla Cave Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site close to Sigiriya and about 50 miles north of Kandy. Its five chambers hold over 150 statues of Buddha and other prominent Sri Lankans from the time of kings. Amongst its greatest treasures are the stunning murals which cover its walls and ceiling. Well worth the effort to visit.
One of the joys of travelling is to see cultures very different from the ones we experience from day-to-day. The Traditional Village Tour we went on in Sri Lanka was a great way to experience the village way of life that continues in many rural areas to this day.
After a recent accident whist away on vacation in an exotic location I came away thankful to be alive, still hungry to travel but reflective on the experience. It will change the way I plan and prepare for future journeys.
Some 800 years ago Polonnaruwa was a bustling commercial and religious centre for the Chola dynasty, as can be seen by the amazing density of ruins of temples, palaces and other buildings. In the early 13th century the city’s glory faded and it was abandoned. The capital moved to the western side of the island where Colombo is today. In 1982 Polonnaruwa as added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites