By David Grainger
"Welcome to Sri Lanka".
It’s February, 2012, and the sleet outside the plane at Heathrow Airport is turning to snow. A few hours later we have arrived in Sri Lanka, with temperatures in the upper twenties and the beach resort in Negombo awaits.
Actually there are more beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka, but Negombo is just twenty minutes from Colombo airport and is a welcome place to rest and enjoy the sun before setting off on a two week tour of the island.
Sri Lankan airlines offer reasonable prices. We combined our visit with an onward journey to Thailand for about the same price as a normal return to Thailand. Another plus point for Sri Lanka is that car hire with chauffeur is about the same price as self drive car hire elsewhere. So sit back and relax! First stop on our tour was the ancient city of Anuradhapura, with an astonishing array of religious edifices, some of the largest in the world.
En route to Sigiriya we visited this beautiful Bhudda carved out of the cliff. This was very much off the beaten track and very difficult to visit without a car.
Sigiriya is a huge rock (a “magma plug”) in just about the middle of Sri Lanka. Opinions vary as to whether the ruins on the top are an ancient fortress or a monastery.
Either way it’s worth the climb.
Half way up you encounter these magnificent frescos.
We rested by the pool in the afternoon but still with a brilliant view of the rock.
Kandy is our next stop. It’s on the edge of the Hill Country where tea plantations abound. In Kandy there is an essential visit to the holy site of the Temple of the Tooth.
A day trip from Kandy takes us to the elephant orphanage. I’ve never seen so many elephants so close up before.
Finally, we complete our circular trip, ending up in Colombo. A very hectic, bustling place, but with a good National Museum.
So will I return? Definitely! There’s still the Hill Country to explore, the fortress of Galle and the beautiful sandy beaches along the south coast to visit. Watch out for an update soon!
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