Sri Lanka

Thunderstoms and history in Sinharaja

From Dikwella it was a long bus or car journey back to Colombo for our flight, so we looked for somewhere in the middle to stay for a night to split up the journey and see a little more of the stunning island.

Having spent a good few days on the beach we opted for an in-land pit stop which meant that Sinharaja Rainforest was a great option. It was one of the places on my top 5 list of places I wanted to go in Sri Lanka, so I booked a lodge on the outskirts of the rainforest which had great reviews and easy access to a few of the parks main walks and waterfalls.

One of Beta’s friends drove us there in a rented car, but almost as soon as we arrived we realised why it’s called a rainforest…

We sheltered in our balcony outside the lodge, watching birds huddled up in the trees, spotting cheeky looking mongooses and getting pretty scared everytime the thunder clapped above our heads. It was incredibly loud!

We were advised against taking a walk in this weather with the high chance of leeches on the path as well as snakes and spiders. We didn’t complain… So instead we made use of our open bathroom and had a bath in the rain! (which failed slightly due to the time it took to fill the bath).

Before our rice and curry tea we fought an onslaught of bugs. It seemed flying ants had decided to wake up and invade both our open air bathroom and our front door, we sealed the doors with towels and bunkered up under the mosquito net. But then… we saw a huge spider right next to the bed, very fast and active. It did help by catching a few of the flants, but if you know me, you know I’m not the biggest fan of spiders, especially when they look like an asian huntsman poisonous spider… so at dinner we requested to change room.

We collected our things and moved to a room in the main building rather than a lodge… only once we got there and drew the curtains, we revealed an even larger spider!!

The hotel owners managed to catch it and remove it from the room with a bath mat, but I was still pretty spooked so Pete looked after me and made sure our mosquito net was secure around the bed.

With the sound of rain and thunder in the distance, along with the pitter patter of chipmunk feet on the tin roof, we took a long time fall asleep, which meant we saw a few lone fireflies make their way into our room. Quite strange really, but enjoyable to watch.

Unfortunately, the next morning it was still poor weather until about 9am when it cleared, but by this time it was too late for walking as the bird spotting is best as dusk or dawn. So we ate our breakfast and watched the chipmunks and mongooses from the balconies of the lodge.

Since we had missed our chance to go into Sinharaja proper, we decided to get a driver to take us out to some of the waterfalls and caves on the way back to Colombo for our flight. I had read that Pahiyangala cave locally was really interesting and a site where one the earliest remains of civilisation can be found dating to 33,000 years ago. It’s also apparently the largest naturally formed rock on the Asian continent…

We asked our hotel owner to help us get a small car, and small it was! We’d never seena car this small before!

On the way to the cave we drove on a single track road parallel to Kuda Ganga river and the drive was really beautiful, if a little hair-raising and bumpy at times! We stopped at Makeli Ella Waterfall, which was also very pretty, with steep steps down to a viewing area. Eventually we made it to the car park of the cave, which was right at the bottom of the rock. The walk to the top was very hot and humid, but we were literally the only people there so it was quiet and serene and felt a little more adventurous.

The rock was impressive, far bigger than Lion’s rock at Sigiriya, but we didn’t try to get to the top, and instead rested in the cave before returning on our journey to Colombo.

We stopped at a little rice and curry shop in Horana and ate with our driver, who was impressed at our chilli eating ability and with us using our hands! haha

We eventually made it to Negombo, just North of Colombo and closer to the airport where we spent the rest of our time relaxing in the nice pool of the hotel before our flight home.

What a holiday, what a country… 3 words to describe Sri Lanka? People and food. Honestly, the Sri Lankan people are wonderful, so kind and such great hosts. The food they present to you is always incredible and we felt welcomed in all the places we stayed. And the food… what can I say… Rice and curry may sound plain and boring, but it has to be one of the most amazing dishes and cultures of food I’ve come across. The variety of dishes, vegetables and spices makes every meal different. Different areas had different spins on dishes also. Since I’ve been home I’ve been trying to replicate as many as I can. it will be a work in progress for some time I think!

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