Day 64 The first look at Galle

Sunset at the Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

January 6th.

Today we are travelling along the coast road from Colombo to Galle, on the south coast of Sri Lanka. We booked a car at our hotel.

Last breakfast in Colombo
Last breakfast in Colombo
Our new hotel
Our new hotel
Galle, Sri Lanka.
Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
You want a TukTuk?
You want a TukTuk?
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.
The Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 61 Fly to Sri Lanka

We flew with Malaysian airlines from Kuala Lumpa to Columbo in Sri Lanka.

First thing we had to do is get some local currency.  There are plenty of exchanges available and they all have the same rates so no competition between them.  Just join the shortest que.

The hotel sent a car to meet us at the airport.  It is quite comforting to come our of the airport and see a man holding up a large piece of card with your name written on it.

It was a long journey from the airport to Colombo town, around an hour. Also in Colombo they have a one way system through the city so you go a long way round to get to where you want to be.

We reached Ivy Lane Backpackers Hostel, via a very pink front door.

 

to be continued….

Day 60 Kuarla Lumpa

Quote from Freya Stark (1893-1993)

…you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes in the spirit in which the gods may offer it.

 

We had a restful day today.  Yet another trip to the laundry. It made sense to get as much washed while we had the opportunity to tumble dry it. (Too many times we have packed wet washing into carrier bags to have to rehash them on another day because they are still wet and smelling).  While we were waiting for the laundry, Paul went for a swim in the hotel pool which is set in some gardens on the 8th floor.  Before I had plucked up the courage to get into the cool water it started to rain.

We returned to our room, sorted the dry laundry and changed ready to pop out as soon as the rain stopped.

Near to the hotel we had seen a Costa Coffee tucked into a small corner.  It had a sheltered outside seating area and as it was still very hot that was what we needed.  A quick dash with umberellas and we were there.

We met the manager of the store who was off duty but had popped in to meet his friend.  He was full of beans and asked our names and tried to think of a song title with my name in it.  Cheryl was not a name he had ever heard before so that idea failed.

We took our drinks outside and were sitting reading the Lonely Planet book looking for somewhere to go in the rain.  The manager came out and sat with us and struck up a conversation.  Yet again we talked about all sorts of things and passed a very pleasant hour or so.

A thunder storm started so we returned to the hotel.  It was a very dramatic thunder storm with lightening breaking in large flashes across the sky and the thunder so loud is was obviously very close to us.

Later we walked to the shopping centre across the other side of the park. Paul was looking for a card for his camera so we visited a couple of camera shops and then went in search of some dinner.

In the upper floor of the shopping mall is an assortment of restaurants from Japanese, Indian, Chinese and others.  We chose the Malaysian restuarant and enjoyed some local dishes washed down with water (no alcohol served!!)

As we walked back towards the hotel the dancing fountains started up again.  They are so beautiful I could spend hours watching them as they change colour and heights.  It was a very different atmosphere here tonight compared with New Years Eve.

Dancing fountains,

Day 58. Butterfly Farm

We took breakfast sitting outside at the hotel.  They certainly serve an amazing buffet breakfast (PNB Perdana Hotel & Suites on the Park).

The other good thing with the hotel is they have a launderette with washing machines and tumble driers. You purchase your tokens from the supermarket next door (yes all this is on the 8th floor of the hotel). Whilst waiting for our laundry we sat in the games room, where we could have played snooker or table football, but we have computer things to catch up on and there is always something to watch from a the window on the 8th floor.

Laundry sorted and we set off for the Butterfly farm.  This was easy to find as we had passed it the day before on the way to Bird World. We caught the Hop on Hop off bus as we still had a couple of hours left on our ticket.  This was the long way to go but at least we got to see the city from the top of an open air bus.

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The entry fee to the Butterfly Farm is 44 mr. It is a lovely peaceful area with the butterfly’s in free flight.  You wander through the pretty gardens that are landscaped into the hill.  There are several water features and waterfalls.

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There are feeding posts for the butterfly’s. Some were Hibiscus flowers that were drizzled in honey and others were pieces of fruit.  Always we saw butterfly’s feeding from these.

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The range of butterfly’s in the park is vast and we saw very small ones to extremely large ones and some that were very plain while others were so colourful.  The most amazing one for me was the butterfly that when it was feeding it would fold its wings and look just like a dried leaf.

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There is a cafe and a gift shop as you leave the park.

It was New Years eve so we went in search of a bottle of wine to have before going out for dinner.  This is very hard to find in a Muslim country.  Eventually we found a supermarket with a little back room that sold some wine. Wine is very expensive here and the bottle we chose turned out to be only just drinkable!!!

Time for dinner and the New Year celebrations to commence.  Please see our page: New Year.

Day 57 What an amazing Bird Park

December 30

Sunrise from our Apartment in Kuala Lumpur
Sunrise from our Apartment in Kuala Lumpur
Sunrise from our Apartment in Kuala Lumpur
Sunrise from our Apartment in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Train travel in Kuala Lumpur
Train travel in Kuala Lumpur
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
Little Egret, The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
Little Egret, The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
Peacocks, The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
Peacocks, The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
 The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.
The Bird Park Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

 

 

Day 56 Kuala Lumpur Arrival

December 29

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Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur
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A train from the Airport
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PNB Perdana Hotel
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From our window at PNB Perdana Hotel
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Kuala Lumpur
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Night time in Kuala Lumpur
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Night time in Kuala Lumpur
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Night time in Kuala Lumpur
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Night time in Kuala Lumpur
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Night time in Kuala Lumpur

 

 

 

 

Day 73 A Sunday walk in Nuwara Eliya

January 15th

our day started with a very hearty breakfast in our Guesthouse – Glen Falls Resort. Pancakes with coconut honey, rotti, a large plate of fruit, eggs of our choice followed by toast and jam and all washed down with a pot of tea.

It has been very cold here overnight and the air still was very crisp.  Our waiter served our breakfast with his black woolly gloves on.  When I commented he told me he was cold.

We then set out to explore the town.

Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya

First port of call was the shopping centre. In the basement are lots of stalls all selling the seconds from the local factories with brand names such as North Face, Brasher, Colombo, Jack Wolfskin, Slazenger and many more.  The prices are only a fraction of the cost of an original in U.K.

All the stall holders want you to be their customer and go out of their way to get you to try something on. If it doesn’t fit they give you another one (possibly in the same size but a different colour) and ask you to try it on.  You start looking for a fleece and because they can’t suit your requirements they move onto a windstopper or a raincoat. Anything for a sale.

We walked down a road leading out of the town and beyond some buildings I could see what looked like a market. We set off to investigate.

 

Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya

The market traders were selling mostly fruit and spices with the odd household items and very few clothes.

Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya

The stall holders were happy to answer our questions when we asked what product names were.

Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya

At some point I turned round to find Paul talking to a lady selling rat poison and insect repellent. She started to tell us how she was a maid in a grand house where the owner was an airline pilot for Jordan Airlines. Having worked there for four years she felt she needed to return to Sri Lanka to marry. This she has done and now makes and packages her own products. She apologised that she couldn’t invite us back to her house for some food, but she had to work. Sri Lankan people are so friendly.

Market Day, Nuwara Eliya
Market Day, Nuwara Eliya

Our next port of call was a traditional English Pub (the first we have seen in our travels). Paul had heard that it possibly served Lion Stout. Sure enough they had it on the pumps so that was him happy.

We started talking to the two men next to us and spent a very pleasant time chatting with them. The younger man is waiting to hear whether or not he has got his first job in pharmacy. We wish him luck. The other gentleman is working in Switzerland with computers and is here making his annual visit.

They have very kindly invited us to stay at their home on our way back to Negombo airport. This sort of invitation is unusual for us and I asked how much they rent the room for but they said no money they were inviting us as guests. When Paul asked the waiter for our bill, they very kindly took it and paid it for us. Thank you very much. A very kind thing to do.

At the Pub, Nuwara Eliya
At the Pub, Nuwara Eliya

Leaving the Pub we decided to visit Victoria Park and Gardens as advertised in the Lonely Planet. It cost 300r each to go in which is a bit annoying when the price structure advertises that this is the price for tourists and locals only pay 40r.

We met two Chinese visitors at the pay station who agreed  it didn’t seem fair but also paid to enter. The park was full of Sri Lankan families as today is a poya day celebrating Harvest Festival and they all have they day off.

Very soon some young lads started talking to us and then introduced us to their Grandfather. An uncle came over and just stood there so Grandfather told him to get his hands out of his pockets and shake hands with us. Next came cousins and friends all shaking hands and chatting with us. When we said it was time to move on the Grandfather shook hands with us which started a procession of twelve to fourteen people all shaking hands and saying goodbye.

Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya
Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya

I just love the flowers in these parks. Such vibrant colours.  It is also interesting to see plants that in the U.K. We only grow inside the house and yet they grow here in parks and gardens.  English roses are another surprise to me but we have seen plenty of them.

Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya
Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya

We met the head gardener of the park who again just started chatting to us, asking which country we came from and were  we enjoying Sri Lanka. He then started explaining about some of the plants. He picked one that smelt of bananas, leaves from The camphor tree which when crushed smelt lovely. He spent a long time taking us round the park and explaining about the plants and trees. His dream is to go to Kew Gardens in London. He has the Kew Garden book of flowers which he referred to often.  I hope one day his dreams come true and he gets to see Kew Gardens.

The two Chinese lads followed us around and we explained more about the flowers. Sadly they had to leave because they had a car and driver waiting for them.

Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya
Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya

Head gardener for the park. Such an interesting man who knew the names for all the plants and their English names and nicknames. Thank you for giving up your time to show us your beautiful park. I look forward to receiving my seeds.

 

 

 

 

Day 69. A Safari at Uda Walawe National Park.

January 11.

We booked to go on a safari at the Uda Walawe National Park, with our hotel. (Le Green).  We waited outside at 5.30am with the Manager who was feeling the cold and telling us it was very cold in the mornings, where we were comfy in tee shirts but did add a light jumper for the safari journey.

Our ‘jeep’ arrived and much to our surprise we were the only people getting on.  A Danish couple were also waiting and they had their own jeep which arrived within minutes.

Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park

It was only a short journey to the park and Paul and I sat up in the front seats of the ‘high up’ jeep, taking the cool morning air as it blew into us.

Early morning at Uda Walawe National Park
Early morning at Uda Walawe National Park

On arrival at the park we were the second jeep back to go through.  The park did not open till 6am so we had a few minutes to wait.  The jeep in front had an English couple with their two young children that we had seen at yesterdays Elephant Rehabilitation Centre.  They all waved cheerily even though it must have felt like the middle of the night for the children.

6am and the gates opened and we drove a few metres down the track and the driver pulled over. He indicated that we had to go in and pay.  I asked if I could stay in the jeep and Paul would go. He acknowledged that and quickly run in the direction of the office. Paul followed in quick pursuit.

Sitting watching, this was the norm.  The jeeps pulled into a space and the drivers would jump out and start running for the office with the poor tourist wondering what was happening and following once it had all sunk in.  It seemed to be a race as to who could get into the park first.

We paid 6,693 Rp which included entry for both of us and a small amount for the driver. We were the eighth jeep to enter the park this morning and every other one disappeared in all directions.  We had a six seater jeep to ourselves so both started in the front seats and just took in the scenery as daylight was breaking.

Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park

Our driver was very observant and it wasn’t long before he pulled over to point out a White Eagle sitting in a tree.  There were so many birds around and the silence of the park was only broken by bird song.  One thing I have never witnessed before is peacocks living wild and nesting high in the trees overnight.  We saw plenty of these.

 Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park

Next animal we saw was a heard of deer.  They didn’t stay long as we approached before scurrying into the bushes.

At last an elephant. A lone male who was rhythmically pulling clumps of grass/plants and eating them.

Our journey continued over some pretty rough terrain and we certainly had a skilled driver who knew how to manoeuvre the jeep through some of the deep ruts and up and down some steep encounters.

Elephant at Uda Walawe National Park
Elephant at Uda Walawe National Park
Elephant at Uda Walawe National Park
Elephant at Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park

We were in the park for well over three hours and certainly saw many animals ranging from deer, peacocks of all sorts of colours, elephants, crocodile sitting basking in the early morning sun, water buffaloes and so many birds and butterfly’s that sadly move too fast to be photographed by us.

Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park

 

Perhaps the highlight was when we saw a lonely monkey scavenging for food on the floor.  As our jeep slowed down  we were able to take really close up photos of him.  Much to our delight he jumped onto the back of the jeep and proceeded to sit on a seat.  Our driver warned me to hold onto my handbag and Pauls camera case as the monkey would take it looking for food.  Sadly these animals show such behaviour because the tourists think it is fun to feed them instead of allowing them to fend for themselves in their natural habitat. Anyway this monkey enjoyed posing for Pauls photos.

We drove down more lanes and saw several beards of female elephants and the occasional lone male.  The good thing about this trip is that we were often the only jeep on the road and you really felt like you were the only people in the park on this animal safari.  Some of the highlights for me were enjoying the off-road 4X4 experience that in UK you would spend a lot of money doing.  It would be quite exciting to go back in the wet season and see how the jeeps slip and slide on some of the inclines and ruts. (Sadly not something we will be doing).

We returned to the hotel around 10am where we had to pay the driver 4,5 00 Rb plus a tip (as advertised in books) and were delighted to find that our breakfast was ready for us. A very healthy breakfast of fresh fruit, omelette and sausage and plenty of toast and jam washed down with a large pot of tea and coffee.

Back to bed for an hour and then head for the pool for some sun bathing, blog writing and of course a swim.

After a shower I went to peg the wet swim costumes out on the washing line and found the family from the hotel trying to rescue as many mangoes from their tree as possible.  They had evidence that a fruit bat had visited the night before and was eating the mangoes.  The youngest member of the family was climbing the tree and with a large Y shape stick was knocking the fruit down to the man waiting at the bottom.  He has a brilliant idea to put both his arms down a sack and then catch the falling mangoes before they hit the ground.  Not only did I photograph this happening I helped to collect the fallen mangoes and make a pile of them, separating the ones that had hit the ground too hard and had split.

The Lady of the hotel offered us some mangoe.  She bought us a plate to the patio, with some sliced mangoe on it from her own garden.  She explained that there are a lot of different mangoes.  She then bought us some from the tree in the garden.  These were much lighter in complexion, pale yellow and not nearly as sweet as the orange coloured ones she first gave us.  She explained that the tree in the neighbouring garden produced even darker fruit.

The hotel has two bicycles that they lend to guests.  We borrowed these and headed to the reservoir dam wall. This barely took 10 minutes so we proceeded to cycle across the wall.  We stopped several times as animals caught our eye. The iguana that strolled across the road, stopping at the central white line to let a lorry pass and then disappearing into the grass on the opposite side ot th road.  There were plenty of birds flying including an eagle soaring above us.  On the return journey we saw the lone elephant we had seen yesterday, standing patiently below the electric fence. Further along the road we saw a herd of elephants that were heading in our direction but they were too far away to wait for them.

We ordered our beers and sat out on the front patio overlooking the front garden.  Several members of the family were trying to repair the central water fountain.  They had fitted a new motor pump and were reassembling the fountain.  With the water turned on it was becoming quite funny watching to see who was going to be the first to get soaking wet. Cameras poised but they decided to turn the water supply off and complete the reassemble in the dry.

Although we had ordered the same meal as last night (Sri Lanka Curry) tonight we ordered fish and pork. This was served with dall and curried carrots with a fresh onion salad. I must say I preferred it to yesterdays although yesterdays chicken was delicious.

After dinner we spent some time talking to the family in the reception area. They are lovely people and very friendly.

Day68. The Elephant Transit Camp at Uda Walawe

January 10

Today we left Galle.  We have had a very enjoyable stay in Fort Thari Inn. No complaints with it at all.  Sadly Summit only told us this morning that he could arrange a car to take us to Uda Walawe and he would have given us a good price.

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We had arranged to meet our car and driver round the corner at the restaurant but the driver very kindly came to meet us and help carry the bags.  So far we have not been onto the fort ramparts this early in the morning- well 9.30am before all the tourists arrived. It looked deserted. The children from the village school were huddled under the trees for shade. It’s still pretty hot at that time of day. The children look very smart as they all wear white. The girls have white dresses and the boys have white trousers and white shirt.

We were introduced to our new driver and bags were loaded into a smart air conditioned minibus. The estimated journey time was just over three hours.  We travelled along the coast road in the direction of Matara and then turned onto the new dual carriage way.

One sign we do not see in U.K. Is: SLOW, BEWARE PEACOCKS.  I commented to Paul and asked the question why peacocks?  We soon had the answer as we slowed down to allow two beautiful peacocks to cross the road.

The main EO1 is a toll road which the driver paid as we went through the toll. We were then back onto single lanes passing through towns.

The driver pulled over and picked up his wallet before leaving the bus.  I assumed he was going to cross the road to the bakery to purchase his lunch but Paul told me he had seen a police officer with a speed gun and sure enough a quick look through the rear window and our driver is walking away with a police officer.  When he came back I tried to ask questions but with his broken English I didn’t get all the answers I wanted. I understand he was stopped for doing more than 50k in a town area. I asked if it would cost him money and he said no but I’m not sure that conversation was fully understood.

Driving in Sri Lanka…. well we thought it was bad in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia but this is about the same.  Put you life in the hands of who ever drives you!!!!!   There is a pushbike on the road, the Tuk tuk decides to overtake it. A car comes along and decides to overtake both of them. Our bus comes along and can’t wait so on a blind bend chooses to overtake the car which is overtaking the Tuktuk which is overtaking the motorbike.  I just shut my eyes and pray.  This is pretty well the style of driving regardless of who you go with, blind summits, bends, single lane traffic, nothing stops them from overtaking if there is another vehicle in front!!!

Our first sighting of elephants
Our first sighting of elephants

Thankfully we arrived safely at LeGreen, Uda Walawe.

We were greeted by a number of staff who soon unloaded our bags and we were directed to the reception area where we were given a complimentary fruit drink and asked which elephant tours we wanted to do as we were only here 2 nights.

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We chose to go to the elephant orphanage and see the baby elephants being fed.

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This is a rehabilitation centre where the babies are rescued and cared for until the age of five years when they are released back into the National Park.

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They have evidence of their success in the last twenty five years with elephants being released and going on to be parents themselves.  There is no contact with the elephants by the public and we had to stand on a viewing gallery behind several electric wires.

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The elephants seem to come to the area naturally from the neighbouring surroundings.  They are fed 4 times a day.  We went to the 3pm feeding. The elephants are allowed into the feeding pen in 4,5 or 6’s. They walk up to a rail where the keepers are standing behind with either very large bottles or a tube and a funnel.

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The elephants are fed their quota of milk. It is just so adorable to see the very small ones being fed with their bottles and how their trunks hold onto the bottle.   Once they have had their milk they wander to the side where a pile of sugar cane awaits them.  The whole process probably only took half an hour but it was very interesting. It all seemed very natural for the elephants.  Once they had all been fed a care man herded them up and pointed them in the direction of the gate and they sauntered out into the wild again till the next feed.

I would recommend this sanctuary (Elephant transit home) as from what we saw the elephants live as naturally as possible.

We then went into the information building. There are some very interesting facts here on the life of an elephant. Very well presented for adults and children.

Our Tuktuk driver was waiting for us in the car park and returned us to the hotel.  Time for a quick swim in their pool before dinner.

There is nothing else around here for miles so be prepared to eat in your hotel.  At least this one has some beer!

We had a very enjoyable dinner, Sri Lanka Curry and rice cooked to order and very well presented.