Trip Start Sep 16, 2013
8Trip End Jun 16, 2014
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Our initial journey from Kathmandu to Colombo didn't get us off to the best start. During our 14 hour, 3 flight, indian visa fiasco, we managed to contract a pretty serious case of food poisoning. Thankfully this kicked in just as we arrived at our hotel in Colombo at 3am and lasted for the remainder of our time in the capital city! This limited the activities we'd planned in Colombo but thanks to some very kind and generous friends of the family, we were given a private tour of the city by day and night and a delicious home cooked meal. This was the last of our luxury in Sri Lanka as we left by train to our next destination, the "cultural capital" of Kandy, located in the hill country. We took a late afternoon journey from Colombo to Kandy on an old steam train, travelling through tropical rainforests, tea plantations and seeing some of Sri Lanka's most spectacular natural beauty
After Kandy, we headed to Adam's Peak, which is where Adam was meant to have first stepped onto the earth, which the Sri Lankan people didn't realize was actually in Arcadia, California. The mountain is also said to contain foot imprints of the Buddha and is sacred to Hindus as well. The climb at points was treacherous due to the wet stairs and unbelievably steep incline and we're sure none of the 5,890 steps were there when Adam first arrived. We left for the mountain at around 3 AM and began our 2 1/2 hour hike straight up in the rain and cold. We actually talked about how at some points this was more difficult than Everest Base Camp. The crazy thing was that we were joined by countless devout Hindus, Christians and Buddhists of all ages (babies included) and many of them were actually doing it barefoot! Adam managed to also lose his wallet with his credit card, ID and money but miraculously at the top of the mountain just before sunrise, we were informed that a local man had found the wallet and was frantically questioning other hikers about the whereabouts of "Adam" on Adam's Peak..So the two were finally reunited on our way down!
After the hike we headed south, exhausted and barely able to walk
After Mirissa we continued along the southern coast for a couple days before heading north again into the hill country
Arugam Bay was a ghost town and seems to depend solely on tourism. We were there in the absolute lowest of low seasons, and most of the restaurants and guesthouses were closed for months. Our second night in Arugam Bay we were sitting on our porch playing a game of cards when were heard a loud crash right outside the front of the guesthouse. We rushed outside to find that a German couple had collided with a motorcycle with two passengers, one of which was not wearing a helmet
We were glad to be on the road again and had a beautiful and scenic bus journey up the east coast through parts of Sri Lanka that had previously been off limits due to the war. We made a quick stop in Pollanaruwa (a city of ancient ruins) but decided to leave without visiting any of them because they were too expensive and we had bad experiences at both our guesthouse and the restaurant where we ate dinner (more monetary disputes). The next day we left for Sigiriya, which was a surprisingly quiet town for being home to such an enormous tourist attraction. The "rock fortress" of Sigiriya is an incredible sight to see and was once the plug of an ancient volcano. Again, this tourist attraction was very expensive ($40 just to get in), but after hearing about another local rock about a mile away, we rented bikes and headed there instead
The next morning we headed to Kandy, where we stayed again for one night before heading to Negombo, a beach town next to the airport. Thanks to some very gracious family friends we went on an amazing scuba diving excursion on our final day in Sri Lanka, diving to about 45 feet. It was a very peaceful way to end our hectic month in the country.
The next day we hopped on a plane to Thailand, very ready to find a beach and a hammock. Sri Lanka was a country filled with natural beauty and we were fortunate to have experienced it. Unfortunately, the rapid rise in tourism since the end of their civil war in 2009 has really made it a country reserved for those with money to spend, and it is often unkind to backpackers such as ourselves who are trying to travel on the cheap. That said, we think that in the future, this will settle down and Sri Lanka will hopefully become an easier place to travel for those on a budget.