Colombo calling | Tour of Sri Lanka

Some people are born Lucky and some just have childhood friends. Yes, I fall into the second category. My life wouldn’t have been this exciting, this adventurous and sometimes disgusting as well 😂 if I didn’t have these people in my life. Sometimes, I just wonder how I’d be without them. Well, for all the people who has been following me knows who am talking about? And for the ones who don’t then am talking about my two childhood friends “Bobby” and “Ajay”. Like I mentioned in my earlier post that most of my posts will have these two, fortunately or unfortunately 😂😂

I am a shy, timid and a seldom spoken as a person, however with these two I am, who I am. I find the best version of “Me”. I wouldn’t have made so many memories, without these two, We still talk about silly stuff, wise stuff, ugly stuff, discuss , disagree, agree, debate , get annoyed 😒 but in the end we let no one come between us. I am sure you guys must be wondering why am emphasizing so much on these two? No, they dint bribe me to mention them in my post 😜 The trip which am yet to share wouldn’t have been a success without these two…

 

The Trip

Most of our trips are either unplanned or planned instantly over some kind of get together. We three met over Dinner one night and discussed that it’s been quite long we’ve been on a vacation. As Christmas had just been over and New Year ahead of us, we three were excited over nothing. I then just casually told how about we head outside the country – India this time. Keeping a Country that wouldn’t tear our pockets, Sri Lanka (located at south east part of India)  came to my mind for New year Celebration and these two just agreed upon and finalized everything over the dinner same night.

Soon we were checking the Flight tickets, and we found out that tickets to Colombo was a bit expensive from Bangalore, India. So, my brilliant friend Bobby came up with an idea of flying from Chennai, India as the tickets from there was much lesser comparatively. Now how do we go until Chennai was the next question? As adventurous we could be we decided to drive until Chennai by My Car, park the car somewhere and then fly off to Colombo.

This is what we love about us, we plan, we agree and then we execute…, So yes, we sealed the deal, It was Sri Lanka via Chennai…but there was last minute addition to our group, it was Cherry, Ajay’s Wife, she too became part of our group on an short vacation to Sri Lanka

Here are some of the basic facts of Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka is an island country located towards south east of India. Sri Lanka has two ethnicities – Sinhalese (Majority) and Tamil(Minority). Island country was known as Ceylon until 1972, it is also know with other names such as “Pearl of Indian Ocean” and also as “Teardrop of India” – this is mostly due to the shape. The country is majorly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism.

Day – 1

We hit the road on 27th December afternoon to Chennai from Bangalore, Needless to talk about the adventure on the way, good conversation, music and us, Well, I bet, nothing can beat us – at least for that moment. The journey was smooth and we reached Chennai at around 9 pm, booked a hotel (Ginger Hotel) for the night stay as we had flight next morning i.e. 28th December. We had a quite a good Dinner and crashed to bed, it was a 7 hour long drive from Bangalore to Chennai, we were a bit tired.

Bangalore to Chennai

Bangalore to Chennai

 

Ginger - IITM

Ginger – IITM

Day -2

Meanwhile the previous Night, Bobby & Me were figuring out as where to park the car at Chennai until we return from Srilanka, finally we figured it out, there was an “Indian Institute of Technology, Madras– IIT Madras” Campus next to Ginger – Hotel where we stayed, we thought that the campus would be the ideal place to park the car until we return. Early morning we reached the IIT Campus spoke to the Security as whether we could park our vehicle for 5 days and for our Luck the security didn’t object and allowed us to park the vehicle, we hired a taxi  and then headed to the “Chennai International Airport”

We boarded the Sri Lank Airlines well in time, we were super excited and couldn’t wait to see what Sri Lanka 🇱🇰 had in store for us as we never had travelled “together” outside India.

Chennai to Columbo

Chennai to Colombo

We landed on time at the “Bandaranaike International Airport” and since we had booked our stay in advance, we didn’t have much hassles. All we had to do was book the taxi and head towards the Hotel, we also made sure that we take a local SIM card while at the airport itself and get it activated. By the way, we had booked our stay at “Ranveli Beach Resort” close to Mt. Lavina Beach, it was much within our Budget and had decent reviews. It was around 42 KM from the Airport to Ranveli Beach Resort.

Airport to Resort

Airport to Resort

 

Festive seasons, New Year ahead there was something different about the air. As we traveled towards our Hotel which was a little away from the main city Colombo (8 KM) our excitement knew no bounds and we were already deciding on lot of stuffs to do. As we were on the way to our hotel, we saw “Colombo City Center”, we thought that since we had packed light, let’s do a bit of shopping at the “City Center” and also know, how prices are as when compared to India. We requested the driver to stop by and the driver immediately agreed. Now our shopping started and for our luck there was a New Year sale which was happening and prices when compared to India was reasonable, we picked couple of clothes – mostly to be used while at Sri Lanka and started heading towards our Hotel. The Hotel was as good as it was described at Booking.com, it had relaxing atmosphere, and we loved it.

Ajay & Bobby Relaxing at the Resort Reception

Ajay & Bobby Relaxing at the Resort Reception

We were greeted at the reception and the rooms were provisioned immediately. While on the way from Airport to the Hotel we had made plans for the day, the plan was to take some rest and head to the beach side shacks for the evening and spend late night on the beach. We checked into our rooms, took some rest and as planned headed towards the Mt. Lavina Beach which is less than 300 meters from the Hotel. We walked down the beach from the hotel and started to look out for place to settle in for some good beer , food & Music.

Mt Lavina Beach side

Time was around 6 pm – sun was slowly trying to set in, it was an amazing atmosphere and it was quite a scene. We walked a bit alongside the beach and found this place called “Buba Seafood Restaurant”, since it was coastal area we were quite eager to try the sea food, we checked into Buba Seafood Restaurant and we choose the place on the upstairs which had a good view of the Indian Ocean, because of the coastal atmosphere we wanted to first have a beer then the food. We ordered couple of beers – we wanted to try the local beer of Srilanka which is called as LION beer which is more or less identical Kingfisher what we get in India and started up with Grilled Tiger Prawns. The food was amazing and different however I didn’t admire their cocktails though and the service seemed little slow, if anyone is visiting Mt Lavina, I would recommend this place for an Evening Beer and food. The staff here are quite good and the place has a relaxing atmosphere. We ordered more beers, we just wanted to get high and crash, we headed back to our hotel and it looked like a long walk, Even today I don’t remember as how we got into the Hotel and Slept – we got quite high with the beers J

Some tip related to Food at the Buba restaurant:

  • Only Can beers are served here, I don’t know if it has changed now
  • Avoid Cocktails, they are not that great
  • Buba Salad, Grilled Tiger Prawns, Cuttle Fish – these were the dishes we liked
  • Buba Special Fried Rice is good – it’s one of a kind.

 

Day 3

We woke up to the sound of a door bell, the waiter boy was so kind enough to wake us up by hot bed tea. I felt that was the best wake up call. Soon we got ready, headed to the breakfast at the hotel – this was complimentary with our stay, while having breakfast, we started to plan as where to head, previous night while at Buba we had decided that we hire a taxi and head to “Galle” and do a tour of Galle, while returning back from Galle, we decided we stop at hikkaduwa and Bentota, have our dinner at Bentota and return back to the Hotel. After having a discussion with the hotel manager, hotel manager helped us with renting a vehicle, it was a Nissan Caravan. Our driver – Sampath was very friendly, informative and he knew to speak English (This was one of the important factor for us, most of the local population speak Sinhalese except for the Northern Sri lankan region where there is combination of Sinhalese and Tamil). We told him our schedule for the day and it looked like we had planned it well.

 

We now took off to Gale on the Nissan Caravan – The vehicle was big enough for 4 of us, we could literally sleep in the Vehicle. On the way to Galle we stopped midway for Lunch on the road side, we had a local Sri Lankan delicacy for Lunch, we had Rice with Srilankan Daal Curry and Unripe Jackfruit Curry. I felt that Srilankan Cuisine has certain resemblance to the Kerala Cuisine of India. We had tender coconut drink as well and captured few moments.

 

The Drive to Galle was fantastic, roads were good and the view was scenic – we loved every bit of our journey. We reached Galle around 2 pm. Galle is one of the major city in Sri Lanka, it was also referred by Ibn Battuta (Moroccan Scholar and a traveler – if you had visited Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai – you would know the places he travelled during the medieval time or check on wiki) as “Qali”. Galle has an influence of Portuguese & Dutch since the fortified city was built by them somewhere during the 16th -17th Century. We reached the Galle Fort around 2:15, it is said that Galle fort is one of the Largest Remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers, it is really huge. We did a bit of shopping at the entrance of the fort and took some photographs for our memory, here are some of them.

 

Shopping at Galle

Shopping at Galle – Bobby

 

Galle Fort Clock

Galle Fort Clock

 

Entering the Galle Fort

Entering the Galle Fort – Cherry & Ajay

 

Shopping Continues...

Shopping Continues

 

Posing with the Soldier - Galle Fort

Bobby Training the Soldier – Galle Fort

 

Galle Fort – Walk through with Cherry

 

Ajay and Bobby – On top of the Galle Fort

 

Me – on top of the Galle Fort

 

Trying to be Superman

Bobby attempting a Superman stunt

 

Galle Fort - Perfect View

Galle Fort – Perfect View

 

Happy Moments

Happy Moments

 

Making Peace with self

Making Peace with self

 

Some workout during Vacation ;)

Some workout during Vacation 😉

 

Me with the Kid - who was kind enough to allow us to use his Bicycle

Me with the Kid – who was kind enough to allow us to use his Bicycle

 

Lifting the Anchor - so that we can sail

Lifting the Anchor – so that we can sail

 

We spent a quality time at Galle and we didn’t know as how the time went, it was already 4:30 pm, we started heading towards “Hikkaduwa” means “Sword of Knowledge”, it was quite late when we reached Hikkaduwa, the sun had almost set but the Location was real amazing, it is a small town with awesome beach, we really felt bad as we couldn’t come here much earlier – but it was too late now already , we decided that we would return to Srilanka again only to visit this place – “Hikkaduwa” . Hikkaduwa is most popular for board surfing, night life is amazing, while at Srilanka if you love beaches, this place is definitely worth a visit. We shopped for some souvenirs to take back home as memories at Hikkaduwa and in no time we started heading towards Bentota – at one corner of my mind I had a feeling to skip Bentota since it was dark already and there was no point seeing the place at that time. Anyhow Bentota was on our way back to our Hotel we decided we just have a look so that we have an idea of the place for our future trip and we had already planned that we would have our dinner at Bentota

 

Bentota is a small town towards the southern region of Sri Lanka and the town is named due to the  Bentota River bank, the name Bentota is derived from the local story as it was ruled by the Demon name Ben ( tota is a river bank ruled by the Demon Ben, hence Bentota). We reached Bentota, it was really late and was almost Dinner time. We headed to one of the restaurants at Bentota, the restaurant was “Golden Grill”. If you are at Bentota and have taste of Srilankan and India Food, you need to visit this place, Food was real amazing probably we were very hungry – on lighter note J .  We felt the Food Fantastic cause whatever we ordered it was perfect, we had nothing to complain about. We had our Dinner and headed back to the hotel, While on the way we started plans for the next day, we planned to go to Kandy, on the way to Kandy we thought we would cover Elephant Orphanage Camp as well – The plan was fixed for the next day, we informed the same to our driver Sampath and also requested if he could be with us for the next 2 days, he agreed. We reached our hotel and crashed on our beds.

 

Day – 4

We got ready by 9:00 Am, had our complimentary breakfast at the hotel. Our Nissan Caravan was in time, Sampath was at our hotel at Sharp 9:30 am. We took some photographs while leaving the reception, Ajay and Bobby were fascinated with the antique’s placed at the reception.

We boarded our Caravan and headed towards the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage camp, we reached the camp around 11:30, for the fact – Srilankan Elephants are the largest of the Asiatic elephants.

 

 

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a nursery and captive breeding ground for Asiatic wild elephants. Elephants in Srilanka are categorized as endangered species. We got to see quite a number of Elephants and were able to feed the elephants as well. We captured some of the moments with the elephants

By around 1:00 pm we came out of the Camp, it was lunch time, we had our lunch at one of the restaurants outside the Camp, nothing great about the food. We just wanted to refuel ourselves as we need to head to Kandy – we had heard a lot about this place so wanted to know as what this place could offer.

 

On the way to Kandy we could see quite number of Tea Plantations and the view was amazing while we pass by it. Kandy has an historic importance and a religious place, it is the last capital of kings period of Sri Lanka, Kandy is host to “Temple of the Tooth” Relic – sacred place for the Buddhist. We reached Kandy by around 3:30 pm, I felt that this was one of the crowded place apart from Colombo. We visited the Buddhist Temple – “Sri Dalada Maligawa“. Since me and Ajay were wearing shorts, the temple authority didn’t allow us to entre, it looks like the part below the knee should be covered. Since we had to enter the temple, we borrowed a wraparound from the local cloth vendors and finally we made it to the temple, here are some of the captures at the temple.

 

Getting Help with the wrap around - Ajay

Getting Help with the wrap around – Ajay

 

Ajay & Me - Finally being permitted to enter the Temple with wrap around

Ajay & Me – Finally being permitted to enter the Temple with wrap around

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kandy Lake also known as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk, is an artificial lake in the heart of the hill city of Kandy, was built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe close to the Temple of the Tooth

Kandy Lake also known as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk, is an artificial lake in the heart of the hill city of Kandy, was built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe close to the Temple of the Tooth

Our mind become completely peaceful by the time we came out of the temple. We thought we will go walking around the city and have some coffee at the restaurant nearby before head back to the hotel and call it a day.

Coffee Hunt - Kandy City

Coffee Hunt -Kandy City

 

Kandy City

Kandy City

We had coffee with snacks (I felt Coffee of Srilanka and of South India are quite similar) and it was time to head back to our hotel. We reached our hotel at around 8:00 pm, we decided that we have dinner at any one of the restaurants on the beach, I don’t remember as which restaurant we dined in that day – that’s not important, the serene ocean, miles and miles of silver sands, sky filled with stars and two best friends of mine Who I grew up with. What else could you ask for? I still have that view in my mind…. We had couple of Drinks, had Grilled fish with Fried rice and headed back to our hotel, we called it off for the day.

 

Day – 5

This day was new year’s Eve – The main reason as why we came to Sri Lanka, we three had decided that we would spend the new year in Columbo, we had booked our accommodation at OZO Columbo – same place,  where the new year party was happening. We checked out of the Ranveli Beach Resort and headed towards Columbo, We reached the OZO around 11:00 AM, checked in and took some rest and we started getting ready for the new year party, the party began around 7:00 pm, it had one of the amazing crowd, awesome music and the party went on till 3 am, So yes we partied like there’s no tomorrow, it was one of best new year parties. We thoroughly enjoyed it, I still don’t remember as at what time did I go to sleep. Here are some of the captures of the New year Eve.

View of the City from OZO Colombo

View of the City from OZO Colombo

 

Bobby - All set to Party

Bobby – All set to Party

 

Testing the Dance Floor

Testing the Dance Floor

Party getting Started

Happy Moments - Me, Cherry, Ajay & Bobby

Happy Moments – Me, Cherry, Ajay & Bobby

 

Day – 6

This was one of the Laziest day of all, we got up quite late, the time we woke it was around 10:00 am, thankfully Breakfast was still open, and we had a heavy breakfast. Ajay, Bobby and Cherry decided that they go out and do some shopping, I wasn’t interested, I stayed back at the hotel and relaxed. By the time they came back it was evening already. Me and Bobby decided we walk around the streets of Colombo, while we were walking, we saw people flying kites close to the beach, it looked like a kite festival, we thought we too participate it was ages since we flew the kite, it was one kind of an experience, as we returned to the hotel, strange feeling crept in as we had to head back to India next day, I know these feeling usually come while you need to resume back to work. However this was one of our amazing trips with beautiful memories captured.

On the Streets of Colombo – Festive & New year Mood

 

Lord Buddha - Everywhere

Lord Buddha – Everywhere

 

Experimenting with Kite Flying

 

Our Kites Flying High - Finally able to fly them

Our Kites Flying High – Finally able to fly them

 

Me Busy with Flying the Kite

Me Busy with Flying the Kite

 

Bobby trying his best to fly higher than mine

Bobby trying his best to fly higher than mine

 

Bobby - Finally giving up

Bobby – Finally giving up

 

Colombo City at Night

Colombo City at Night

 

Me with Srilankan Police - Most efficient cops

Sri Lankan Police – Most efficient cops

Day -7

As we packed our Bags along with the memories we made, we promised that we will come back for sure to explore more places, things we couldn’t this time and thus concluded this trip of Sri Lanka. If I have to sit and recall even now how my Sri Lankan trip was, I have this vivid memory of “the serene ocean, miles and miles of silver sands, sky filled with stars and two best friends by my side – A trip that made me realize my bonding with my childhood friends.

 

Some tip which I can offer:

  • Most places accept Debit and Credit cards hence not to worry. If you need to exchange for the Srilankan currency you can do it at the Airport and make sure that you exchange it back while you return.
  • Ideal time to visit Srilanka is from December to March
  • As I always recommend – Travel Light, Srilanka being a tourist  destination you can buy most of the stuffs at Srilanka if it is really needed, most are available and economical as well
  • Carry bottled water wherever you go since tap water are not safe.
  • Most of Srilankan’s at least in the urban area know English and sign boards are in English so not to worry.
  • Please don’t litter, Government has put in a tremendous effort pertaining to cleanliness, according to me – Srilanka is one of the cleanest destination among the Indian subcontinent countries.
  • Try at least one local delicacies and don’t miss to taste the Ceylon Tea
  • Internet access is freely available in most of the restaurants and hotels
  • We couldn’t travel north of Srilanka this time due to limitation in time, North of Srilanka is more serene, less crowded and less explored, If you are interested in exploring, you should try north of Srilanka
  • Srilanka is quite safe country and the localities are quite friendly and ready to help and hence security is not a huge concern.
  • You can apply for an Srilankan Visa online if your nationality requires a VISA to visit Srilanka http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp;jsessionid=4N0yZvPVlQWWnKkmvygxrrBTJw8m4rjrRnp49CXHpP1tQ9WZYhrL!1305662910?locale=en_US
  • Try to use Public transport if you are travelling alone, they are quite economical.
  • Entry fees – most tourist places or places of historic importance have entry fee, please make sure you budget them accordingly
  • Don’t forget to carry your fist aid kit.