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sabato 17 settembre 2011

Sri Lanka : land of wonders

The first thought on the way out of Colombo airport is: do i need a washing machine to carry around? It's the first time I saw an airport where next to the duty free shops you could find shops for electronics and home appliances with a big display of washing machines, vacuum cleaners and fridges to carry home when you get out of a plane..
The second thought when you get on a tuk tuk like I did is: why is it taking 2 hours and a half for two kilometers? And then you have the answer right there : at every meter there is an entanglement of bycicles, motorcycles, buses with peoples hanging from them, people crossing the streets in every possible direction and cows.

Third thought : can it be any more humid than this? Oh yes try going there in rainy season . Actually when I went it was January when it was supposed to be sunny and dry.. unfortunately it wasn't but it was nice nevertheless.
Colombo is not that attractive but it can be very fascinating when you take a tuk tuk at night and you go to a temple
where you find a guardian like this

Elephants should really be in the forest but there they are considered to be holy and are put in temples. I would like to ask them for their opinion on this but as usual humans assume that animals want the same things they want and take advantage of the fact that we speak a different language.. If we spoke animalese I believe elephants would surely give us a piece of their mind...

In Colombo you can have a memorable Sri lankan meal ( the best I have ever had) in one of the ten restaurants of Colombo Hilton a little pricy for Sri Lanka but definitely worthy..

One of the best parts of Sri Lanka is the Cultural triangle: Anurhadapura the ancient capital of Sri Lanka

The beautiful ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Sigiriya the sacred rock you can climb: 300 steps (although it felt like 3000) slippery and uneven. I climbed up to the top it in the rain wearing flip flops.. A real heroin right? I believe that's where my herniated disc originated..

Since I could not be satisfied with that and I also had to climb
Dambulla with its rock temples up on the hill (on the same day with the same shoes in even heavier rain) and then I complain I have back problems...

and last but not least Kandy the last capital of the ancient kings'era of Sri Lanka, where I was lucky enough to find a religious procession and enjoy it at its fullest (although it was still raining).

The best way to travel around is to get a driver so that you can sit back relax and enjoy the landscape . And you can also have various encounters like elephants crossing the streets at night or very friendly cows during the day. An all day company everywhere you go is monkeys.. when I say everywhere I mean also in your hotel room if you don't lock the balcony doors at night which brings the fourth thought: shall I feed them ? it is always advisable not to , no matter how friendly they seem they can then get used to the fact that men feed them and soon they can start demanding food from you and becoming aggressive so then they have to be put down. Conclusion : it's always better not to give them anything. Instead it is advisable to feed the hundreds stray dogs which populate Sri Lanka . Most of them are sick and underfed and sometimes it is really heartbreaking.. I have seen the majority of the people,probably because of their buddhist way of thinking, feed them. Sometimes they put a piece of cloth around some dog's neck as a collar and they adopt it. People try to take care of them at their best but they are just too many....

Another famous place as far as animal are concerned is Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. I had mixed feelings about that especially after some things I had heard .However when I went there I saw that the elephants are basically left in quite a big area where they spent most of the day and then they are taken to a nearby river twice or three times a day where they spend two thee hours bathing, playing, eating.. even mating so it wasn't bad at all. I spent two three hours there but I could have stayed days.

How about the sea in Sri Lanka ? Well the coast is very beautiful although it still carries the painful memories and scars of the tsunami. Locals and foreign volunteers have done a lot in a country which was shattered in a few seconds all over. Many places are still recovering but tourism is back at its fullest and all the coastal villages and towns have gone back to normal life.
The place I chose is called Dickwella. It's far south close to Matara. Not that touristic and very nice beaches. Too bad it was raining ALL THE TIME in dry season. It gave us the opportunity to discover a very nice place for Ayurveda at a little distance from our resort I would strongly reccomend if you have three four weeks to spare and want to detoxicate and rejuvenate your body and mind. . The owner Flavio Barattini is incredibly funny and cooks like heaven. The program is really intense but if you re just by-passers like us you can still enjoy a four hand body, foot, head and face massage and relax by the pool or on the beach.
We had two and a half days of sun out of seven and it was great anyway. Beautiful white or light yellow sand beaches, palm trees and deep blue sea. Could you ask for more ?

On the way to Dickwella there area lot of places worth stopping by even if just for a little while: Galle for example a fortified city built by th Europeans with narrow streets and little shops where you can walk on the Fort walls or Bentota where you can admire the little sea turtles which will be released into the sea or tea factories where you will be able to drink some of the best qualities of te (Ceylon tea is always been worlwide famous) or just stop on the road and most of the times you will catch a glimpse of a wonderful world.
A question remains though: there is still a big part of Sri Lanka which was left out and many more wonders to discover, which brings me to the fifth and final thought : When will I go back?