A Travellerspoint blog

Living on the Edge

Alain and I arrived in Sri Lanka to a warm welcome in Negombo, a small city close to the Colombo airport. We were greeted at our guesthouse by Pathoum (pronounced 'Pa-toom') who scooped up our bags and told us everything we needed to know including which dog not to touch on the way to our room! When we made it down to lunch, we were a little disappointed that there was no Sri Lankan food on the menu as we were excited to try the local dishes! When we asked Pathoum where we could eat, he suggested that he could make us something local right there (not on the menu). We were so happy that he offered. Our first tastes of Sri Lankan food were amazing! We had fresh, hot coconut roti, Dahl curry, potatoe curry and coconut sambal (ground coconut with onions, tomatoes, lime and spices). We were in Sri Lankan heaven when we started tasting the spicy and delicious flavours washed down with a cold Lion Lager! After all that good food and a dip in the pool, we were ready to explore Sri Lanka!

We started at Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an ancient historical site that is said to have been inhabited by royalty in the First Century AD and just rediscovered in the late 1800's. Our jaws dropped when entered the site and saw how big it was (370 meters to the top!). Climbing the steep steps, I literally felt like I was walking on the edge as my fear of heights kicked in, looking down 300 meters! I hugged the railings with both hands as we made our way to the top. I was happy that I overcame my fear of heights after seeing vivid paintings on the cave walls and beautiful views atop the rock! We couldn't believe the size and quality of the Lion's Paws and it was hard to believe that they weren't designed by some Disney theme park architect! At one time, the steps when through the Lion's paws as they do now but also straight into the Lion's mouth (which is no longer there)! Those ancient Sri Lankans didn't do anything on a small scale!

We then ventured on to Dambulla, another ancient refuge for the royalty that has caves filled with about 150 Buddha statues! We also saw Polonnaruwa, an ancient capital of the Chola and Sinhalese Kingdoms. My favorite part was basking in the sacredness of a group Buddha images carved into granite that are up to 14 meters long. Monks still come here to meditate and give offerings. The carvings are in such good condition that you would think they had just been done. There was such a beautiful energy of peace and tranquility here, I could have stayed all day! Alain managed to pull me away though.

From here, we traveled on to Kandy, the hub of the Ancient cities! It was busy and crowded. The highlights were walking in the botanical gardens which were beautiful and walking around the lake that's by the center of the city. We visited the 'Temple of the Tooth', a sacred Buddhist temple that is said to contain one of the Buddha's teeth, removed from his cremated remains. We stayed just outside Kandy in a old Colonial house called the 'Mansion'. It was obviously glorious in its day but is now falling apart a little and I'm pretty sure it was haunted judging from the rattling I heard in the hallways all night long! After that, the Cinnamon Grand, where we finished off our stay together in Colombo seemed very, very grand! What a way to finish our tour of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage!

Posted by Travelosophy 04:08 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged temples cities buddhism sri ancient kandy lanka's pollonaruwa sigiryia Comments (1)

Life of Pi

"A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles" ~ Tim Cahill

sunny 30 °C

If you haven't seen Life of Pi, you really should!  It's a beautiful movie about a boy cast away on a lifeboat after his ship sinks with a cast of characters represented by a Bengali tiger, a zebra, a hyena and an orangutan.  He lives at sea with these characters until he finds shore.  I won't spoil the rest of the movie for you but I will say that the first week of my trip felt a little like 'Life of Pi' minus the shipwreck.  Alain and I boarded the 'Sachika', an Italian-run live aboard in Male to dive the Indian Ocean around the Maldives.  We were excited to get in the water with all the exotic creatures of the Indian Ocean (whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, grey sharks, white and black-tipped reef sharks).  We weren't disapointed.  We saw the most beautiful creatures!  We spotted everything we wanted, even a whale shark!  Everything that is beautiful and rare comes with a challenge though!  We had to fight currents that tore off my fin on one dive, had us climbing up a reef wall inch by inch like we were climbing Mount Everest in a blizzard and getting separated from the group on another.

What we didn't expect was the cast of characters we'd meet on board!  We met a French couple, living in the Middle East who shared their incredible stories of love, life and travel.  There were a group of Italians who did not speak a word of English so we only got to exchange the occasional "Boungiorno!".  The neurotic New Yorker who never really seemed to be disconnected from his computer unless he was 30 meters under the water. The crazy Russian who was geared from head to toe in the latest equipment and apparently dived like a Navy Seal but couldn't help himself from getting into constant trouble under water.  Then there were our dive masters, Olga, who spoke in riddles when telling us what the dive conditions were going to be like and Antonio who made fun of us all under water and kept us laughing even under the most stressful circumstances!  

Along with this quirky cast of characters we were treated to the most amazing surprises throughout the trip. We were given a tour through one of the islands that is completely Muslim by our guide, Didi and got a glimpse into the life of the locals. We visited the most beautiful uninhibited island where we had an amazing barbeque on the beach, complete with wine and cake to celebrate our friend, Lionel's birthday (which we also celebrated under water with a big happy birthday poster). He said he was so surprised that he lost control of his boyancy and flooded his mask!. Alain even got to play some soccer on the beach with the crew. Olga warned us that is was a dangerous sport on the island and sure enough, someone broke a toe! Alain came away without injuries though! Whew!

What an experience!  I have to say, we loved every minute of it and were sad to leave the boat and its cast of characters at the end!  

Posted by Travelosophy 06:23 Archived in Maldives Republic Tagged beaches diving travel scuba maldives shark whale manta rays islands! Comments (0)

On your mark, get set....

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" - Lao Tzu

sunny -2 °C

I recently decided to create a travel blog to share my upcoming travels to South Asia. So, this weekend, while in Canmore with my boyfriend, Alain (who I will be traveling with for the first two weeks of the trip) I started thinking about what to call this little blog. I enlisted Alain's help while we were sitting in the inspiring wonderland of the rocky mountains. Hmm, what to call a travel blog? Well, there are all the obvious options; 'Alanna's travels', nice, but a little straight forward, 'Wanderlust', cute, but already taken. This was not as easy as I thought it would be! We had to put our brains to work. How about 'Packed Bags'? Um, just a bit literal don't you think? Well, what about 'Green Duffle Bag'? Yeah, but what happens when people want to see this legendary green duffle bag in a photo and I have nothing to offer but "it's just a random name for my post"?. I also don't feel like buying a brand new duffle bag just for the sake of the blog! OK, here's a good one... 'Continent Straddler'...(*uncontrollable laughter*)... I don't think so! So, what about 'Travelosophy'? Eureka!!! Yes, I'd love to share my experiences, observations and ideas about life on the road or wherever I may be. After all, it is about the journey, not the destination. Finally, travel blog christened! Here's to the first step in the journey! I'd like to hear from you...so, what is the most memorable first step of any journey you've ever undertaken?

Posted by Travelosophy 20:33 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

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