Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Wanderer Returns

The holiday was typified by amazing views such as this one over the sea from our apartment in Colombo

Yet another sudden absence, just when I thought I was getting the hang of this blogging lark I get out-of-sync again. At least this time I have a good reason, at the end of August I went to Sri Lanka on what was probably one of the most wonderful holidays I have been on.

And the other direction
I decided to visit the country as one of my friends' family is from there, although he grew up in England, and another has recently moved there for work. I have to admit that before deciding to go there it was a place I knew virtually nothing about other than flickers from the coverage of the civil war and the tsunami a few years a ago. However, as soon as I had got up the Wikipedia page that mentioned its status as a place of leading biodiversity and seen a few pictures I knew I had to go.

Bf and I flew from London Heathrow early in the morning after a panicked journey over after our plan to pull an all-nighter failed and we set off over an hour late. Fortunately we had checked in online with Etihad and after all that stress had a very relaxed airport experience, getting through security without issue and then being left with only an hour to kill before take off.

We were fortunate enough to be hosted in properties belonging to my friend's family and also had their staff attending to our every need. Although the latter may seem strange it is very normal there because of the much lower wages - even my friend who recently moved there and has quite a modest salary is able to employ a woman to come in every day to do his cooking and cleaning. All of these people were so kind and helpful towards us and although one is always cynical and fears this is just a side effect of being friends of the boss' son, it truly did not feel this way. They deserve a post all of their own to detail a few of the characters that we met.

Citrus Bungalow - so very colonial
Although we didn't see everything I had hoped to we did take in a fantastic range of aspects of the country, from beach to city and the cool, mountainous tea plantations to the baked Savannah of Yala national park. My camera was constantly snapping and so you should expect a few more posts to come of what we saw, I hope you won't mind all these image heavy posts.

After a few hours sleep in Colombo recovering from our flight which touched down at three am we met our driver for the next few days and headed for the coast. After a couple of hours on the highway lined with green; palms, paddy fields and other crops we arrived. We stayed in a bungalow in a plantation called Citrus Estate which produces tea, rubber and palm oil. The building had a very colonial feel with a veranda looking across the garden and down the palm covered hill, the place had four bedrooms and I could easily imagine it housing some wild parties back in the day (all of the rooms were interconnecting).
TOP Zara - SKIRT Motel - SANDALS Topshop - BELT Vintage
View from the road up to the bungalow
The gardens are so bright and alive
The city of Galle was one of the first places to be taken by westerners and passed from Portuguese to Dutch to the British who took over much more of the island. It has some beautiful pieces of architecture and quite a relaxed feel. Across the country we did not find we were harassed in the same way that western tourists are in many countries. Our driver told us that the modern part of the city which built up around the old Dutch fort has been almost completely rebuilt in recent years as a result of the destructive tsunami.

Galle lighthouse
I'd love to buy this place and do it up to its former grandeur

The effects of the tsunami could be felt even more strongly in the beach town of Unawatuna, whose sandy beach had hardly any western tourists and was backed by sad looking buildings that had clearly felt the force of the water.

Fishing boats next to the road from Galle
View from the glass-bottomed boat ride to the beach

By contrast the other beach that we visited felt like little slice of heaven. barely touched, it was situated at the bottom of a cliff where the 'Peace Pagoda' is, the natural bay meant the waves were less harsh here and the water was perfectly blue and clear.
SWINSUIT & BELT Vintage - SHORTS Topshop
Baby monkey hidden among the trees on our walk down from the car

Palms, perfectly clear blue sea and white sand - what more could you ask for?
The Peace Pagoda offered amazing views

No comments:

Post a Comment