Week Twenty-Two: 12/22 – 01/02

After taking the train to Bangkok from Siem Reap, we spent one day exploring Bangkok and then flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We met up with Nithya for the Christmas holiday. From December 22nd to January 2nd, we traveled to Adam’s Peak, Kandy, Matara, and Bentota Beach.

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A map of our journey. The white dot on the east side south of Ella wasn’t a destination; I just needed it to mark our path from Kandy to Matara. We went in a clockwise direction from Colombo. The white dot to the east of Colombothat isn’t labeled is Adam’s Peak.

Our first night in Colombo we explore the old colonial parts of the city.

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The company Cargills was seen in many places in Colombo. I’m not sure if it is the same Cargill as the multinational agricultural company, but it wouldn’t surprise me!
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A view of the street and a Supta in Colombo.
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It’s fun to stay at the YMBA…
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Colonial buildings in Colombo.

The old colonial sections of the city were pretty deserted. We decided to head into what we though was the center of town to find some food.

Below are a few videos of the streets of Colombo.

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A crowded train ride on the way back to our Airbnb.
On Christmas Eve, we took a bus from Colombo to Adam’s Peak. Below are two videos of the bus trip.

On Christmas morning, we woke up at 2 am to hike up to the buddhist temple at the top of the peak.

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The gate at the foot of the peak.
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Lights line the paved path to the top.

We didn’t think the hike was going to be busy because it was Christmas day. We were wrong. There were already a few buses of pilgrims unloaded at 2 am when we started walking to the peak. It seems the buddhists will take any opportunityt to celebrate. :) In all honesty, I think this was part of some buddhist holiday as well.

Below are som videos of the hike.

When we got to the steepest section, the path started getting crowded. About 300 meters from the entrance of the temple, the movement stopped. The temple isn’t very big, so they can only let a certain number of people there at once. The line only moved when people left the temple and around sunrise, the people at the top weren’t keen to miss the view and leave the temple.

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We still caught a good view of the sunset waiting in line.

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Pretty, pretty.
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The lake below

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A view of the line below us. “We didn’t think it was going to be busy on Christmas day”.

After waiting 1 hour while only moving 100 feet, we decided the top really wasn’t worth another 1-2 hour wait. With the sun fully risen, we started making our way down.

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A view of the peak near the bottom.
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Some holiday cheer.
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An intricate bell.

After taking breakfast and spending a hour resting, we hopped on a busy to Kandy.

Bus travel was erratic, yet effective. There was rairly a direct bus from where you wanted to go, but the buses made frequent trips. You would tell the driver you wanted to get to “Kandy” and he’d say, “we can take you to another busy that goes to Kandy”. He’d mutter some time and distances that we wouldn’t really understand, and then we’d sit down (or stand if there wasn’t seats available. We would all gradually falls sleep until 45 minutes or so later (we thought he said 2 hours), we’d be awoke to a scream of “KANDY BUS!” and him shaking us awake. He’d hurriedly get our big backpacks on while he flagged down a bus speeding past us. We’d look a little quizzically back at him and ask, “this is the bus to kandy?” and he’d shout, “Kandy bus, Kandy bus” while frantically pointing at the bus that just pulled over. As soon as we’d stepped off the bus, it would rapidly accelerate forward while we boarded the other bus.

This sort of scenario repeated itself so often that we started to just trust the bus drivers and go with the flow. Bus travel was by far the most tiresome part of the trip, yet it was also the most memorable. It was quite tiring, but fairly easy and convenient.

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Tasha got a seat :)
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A fairly empty bus compared to many of the buses to took. Often the aisle would be full of people.
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In this case, the aisle was too full of people.

After a long journey, we made it to Kandy. The main “thing to see” in Kandy was the temple of the sacred tooth, which contains a relic of one of Buddha’s teeth. Facing the crowds to see one of Buddha’s teeth didn’t sound worthwhile, so we just walked around the lake and spent a long time watching monkeys. :)

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I found their play with the glove really funny. 
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Enjoying a coconut. 
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After walking along the lake, we decided to take a break and have some tea!
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After the tea, we went to a bar to watch the sunset.

 

The next morning we got up reasonably early to catch the train from Kandy to Matara. So far we had avoided trains after our initial experience trying to get from Colombo to Adam’s Peak. We bought a ticket, but the train was utterly filled to the brim. People were literally hanging out the doors.
Sadly, our experience getting from Kandy to the south coast was only marginally better. We could board the train, but there was standing room only. After a few hours, we decided to get off and take a bus the rest of the way.
Tasha did get a nice video of the country-side though.

While less scenic, the bus was more convenient and somewhat less crowded. Our airbnb host picked us up from the bus terminal. The next morning we got up wandered aroudn the local beach and took a bus to the tourist beach about 15 minutes away.

 

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An evening at the tourist beach

After a slow morning start, we took a bus from Matara to Galle to see the Dutch Fort

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A view from the fort.
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A really intense kitty.

We had a two chill days in Galle. We mostly walked around the fort, went to a local tea shop, and played cards. It was a great way to unwind after all of the bus-tlling about. (get it?)

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More ocean views

 

Our last stop was Bentota Beach, which is where we spent new years eve. It is a tourist beach as well and we were lucky to find a nice place on the beach to have a little fire, drink gin, and relax. The resort near our campfire had some fireworks which was nice.

 

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A few from the beach on new years eve. 

Our last day, we headed back to Colombo and flew out in the evening. We had a long layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tasha was happy because she got to have Kaya (coconut jam) toast and cham (tea, coffee, and condensed milk)!

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Kaya toast and cham!

 

After a long journey, we landed safely in Yangon. We are both happy to be more stationary for a change. :)

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