Sri Lanka’s pristine south coast: Mirissa Whale Watching

Whale and dolphin watching in Mirissa is one of the most exciting water activities you can do in Sri Lanka during your holiday. Mirissa is the best place to start your whale and dolphin watching tour in Sri Lanka.

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In warm Indian ocean you can see Blue whales, Bryde´s whales, Sperm whales, Fin whales, sometimes Killer whales, and Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and Striped dolphins. Sometimes you can see turtles and various fish species, for example Bluefin tuna and flying fish.

Usually boats leave at about 7.30am and time they travel depends on when you first see the whale. We came back to shore at about 1pm but previous day they reached to the shore at about 3pm.

I think all the boats are having similar facilities which includes morning tea, breakfast and some snacks with water bottle. But the boat provided by Sri Lankan army seems more stable in their journey with less vibrations compared to the other boats. All the boats race after the whale as they want to make their customers got best view. The best season for Mirissa whale watching is said to be from November to April.

Cost of a boat trip will range from LKR 4,000 – LKR 6,000.

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Sri Lanka’s hill country: Horton Plains!

Horton Plains National Park is one of the BEST places to visit in Sri Lanka. Amazing views, gorgeous environment, clean air and water…Natural beauty at its best!

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I last visited Horton Plains in March 2010. This is a super place to see “Sambur” deer (early morning or late evening) and if you are lucky, the laziest and best fed Leopards. It is a 10km walk to Worlds End and back. It can get chilly and wet, so go well prepared. Take some water or warm beverage as there are no shops once you are in the park. Wear warm clothes (a hoodie, hat, umbrella or even a rain coat). Carry as little as possible. Wear sensible footwear (walking boots or sports shoes are the best). If you walk leisurely, admiring the beauty and giving yourself little breaks, it will be much easier on your legs the next day! There’s amenities along the way but bring your own toilet paper.

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There are 2 paths to take to visit the 3 main attractions: Mini worlds end, Worlds end and Bakers falls. The route to the right where you can visit the bakers falls first, is the most scenic route and the easiest. I think it’s wise to use that route, so you visit bakers falls, worlds end and mini worlds end last. The walk ways can be a bit muddy. There are a couple of walkways (one near the 2km post, where you can walk down to the lake and have a dip. The water is icy cold but so pure and clean and the view is amazing down there.

sambur-deer-1Remember not to take any disposable plastic or foil bags, covers. You can bring water bottles but the outer covers must be removed. Even biscuits or snacks must be put into paper bags which are provided at the entrance. It’s a bit annoying, but once you are inside the park, it’s clear how important it is to keep the environment safe.

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We stayed in Nuwara Eliya and hired a car and driver who picked us up at 5am. It took about an hour to get there and the sunrise was spectacular. Also, make sure you make an early start- aim to get to the start of the walk by 7-7:30am, this should get you to Worlds End by about 8:30-9am. Any later and the clouds might start to roll in!

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The car cost us 5,000 rupees and the ticket prices were a bit steep by Sri Lankan standards (3,000 rupees per person).

 

 

 

 

The only challenging bit was the short climb down to the waterfall but well worth it.

Our Home in Sri Lanka

We have a house by the  west coast of Sri Lanka, near the Colombo International Airport. Close to our home, there is a seaside town called Negombo with beautiful beaches and fine restaurants. The nearest major town is Ja-Ela which is only 15 minutes away from Colombo since the new Colombo-Katunayeka-Negombo expressway was opened in October 2013.
スリランカのコロンボ国際空港の近くに、スリランカの家があります。ニゴンボという海辺の村の近くです。

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View of our home from the lake!
湖から見た家の様子

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Front view of our house surrounded by beautiful palm trees, overlooking a lake and a large gardens! Large swimming pool
大きなスイミングプール

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Our home is located only 15 mins drive from the Colombo International Airport and 20 kms from the capital Colombo. It is situated in an ideal location to base yourself to explore wonderful Sri Lanka. The house is the perfect location for visits to Colombo, the Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Galle and Negombo.

短期で貸出もしています。

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Some of My Favourite Sri Lankan Food

Sri Lankan cuisine mainly consists of boiled or steamed rice served with curry. This usually consists of a “main curry” of fish, chicken, pork or mutton (typically goat), as well as several other curries made with vegetables, fruits and lentils.
スリランカ料理は基本的に、炊いたご飯とカレーの組み合わせです。通常、魚、鶏肉、豚肉あるいは羊肉のメインのカレーと、その他野菜、フルーツ、レンズ豆などのカレーを一緒に食べます。

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String Hoppers is another food native to Sri Lanka, served mainly for breakfast or dinner and often accompanied by a mix of red onions and spices.
ストリングホッパーと呼ばれる料理もスリランカ発祥です。通常、朝食、夕食に食べることが多く、紫玉ねぎやスパイスと一緒にサーブされます。

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Hoppers are made from a fermented batter of  rice flour and coconut milk.
ホッパーと呼ばれる料理は、米粉とココナッツミルクを混ぜて発酵させて作ります。

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Red Lentils with coconut Milk – Sri Lankan Parippu. If there’s one dish that is truly Sri Lankan, it would be the Parippu curry.
こちらは、スリランカパリップと呼ばれる、赤いレンズ豆とココナッツミルクでできた料理です。純粋にスリランカ発祥の食べ物があるとすれば、パリップカレーということになります。

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One of my favourites is Wattakka (Pumpkin) Curry.
私の一番のお気に入りは、ワタッカと呼ばれるかぼちゃのカレーです。

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Another favourite of mine is boiled and mashed plantain with red onions and green chilies.
紫玉ねぎとグリーンチリのカレーも好きです。

Polonnaruwa, second most ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka!

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Polonnaruwa is a city in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka and is around 216 km from Colombo.

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century AD and maintained its status until the 13th century. In 1982 the ancient city of Polonnaruwa was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

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What’s nice about Polonnaruwa is that the ruins are in one compact area so you can visit them quite easily. Just one three wheeler ride from where you’re staying to the entrance and you can walk about them all day long.

Car is the easiest and however most expensive to get to Polonnaruwa from Colombo. Most cab services will charge you around LKR30 per km (approx LKR 14,000 / USD $100 roundtrip). The advantage is that you will sit in air conditioned vehicle all the way to Polonnaruwa and the road is quite nice with plenty of greenery along the way. Trip is five to six hours inclusive of stops for food, drink and fruit.

Bus is always the cheapest option. Buses leave from Colombo Fort and its recommended to take the intercity to Polonnaruwa. With some luck you should arrive in Polonnaruwa in six to eight hours. The December 2015 Price is LKR 250 from Colombo to Polonnaruwa.

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Sacred Quadrant

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Moon Stone at the entrance of the Sacred Quadrant

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Kiri Vihara

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Rankot Vihara

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Audience Hall

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Gal Vihara

Entrance fee for Foreigner is 3900 LKR (or 30 USD). Ticket is available at the Museum. Make sure to purchase ticket before heading towards the ruins, else you need to go back to the museum as tickets are not available at the entrance. The main reason for recommending Polonnaruwa despite the extortionate entry fee is that the ruins are generally more complete (but then they’re not as old as those at Anuradhapura).

If you are reasonably fit and can tolerate the heat and humidity, then I would recommend using a bike to see the remains of Polonnaruwa. I would also recommend carrying a spare pair of socks to protect your feet from the scorching ground. Please be careful when leaving your sandals / shoes when visiting sacred areas as unfortunately I has my sandals stolen on one trip.

I visited Polonnaruwa in December 2015.

Colombo – The new capital of Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka’s Capital Colombo, a port city, with a rich colonial heritage, on the Western coast is a potpourri of races, religions and cultures.  Colombo is a contrast itself, with mansions, lush gardens, fine dining options, shopping malls packed with expensive designer brands standing next to urban slums; diesel fumed congested roads and street markets.

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Despite its small size Colombo offers a varying selection of experience ranging from taking a tuktuk ride, a visit to Pettah market and eating Kottu Roti to playing a round of golf and having high tea at one of the colonial style hotels overlooking the Indian Ocean.

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With many boutiques filled with international brands and local art and fabrics Colombo is the best place to do the last minute shopping and then it’s best to retire to Galle face, Colombo’s playground for some Kottu or Wade.

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Brave the streets of Pettah to pick up everything from fabrics and fruit to watches and wedding invitations. “It’s utter chaos,” the locals cheerfully admit. “You can get a suit made in two hours, though it may last only three.” The streets are crammed with saris, electronics and ayurvedic medicines, while the fruit and vegetable market heaves with sacks of outrageously fierce-looking chillies.

GALLE FACE GREEN

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It’s easy to forget Colombo is a seaside city when you’re stuck in a 1pm traffic snarl on the Galle Road. The best way to reconnect with the Indian Ocean is by making like a local and promenading on the Galle Face Green. Sundays are a big day for local families, kite flyers and food trucks serving deep-fried snacks.

 CLOTHES SHOPPING

Odel is Colombo’s fashion house of choice (5, Alexandra Pl, Col 7) and KT Brown its designer, with ethnically inspired designs (7 Coniston Place, Col 7, ktbrownstudio.com). For leaner budgets, Cotton Collection (143 Dharmapala Mw, Col 7) has fabulous finds and nearby Kelly Felder (117 Dharmapala Mw) employs only local designers with new stock every Tuesday. For cool beachwear, check out the super-colourful Arugam Bay label, in Odel, Barefoot and their showroom (32 Ward Place, Col 6), which is also home to contemporary Buddhi Batiks. Grab a tuk-tuk and skip between them.

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It’s a cafe, an art gallery, a performance space and shop. Established 40 years ago by Sri Lankan artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Barbara Sansoni, its signature style is hand-woven, hand-dyed yarns made into brightly coloured children’s toys, free-flowing clothing and fabrics manufactured ethically by women across the country. Also one of the best places for books on Sri Lanka (704 Galle Road, Colombo 3 and Old Dutch Hospital, barefootceylon.com).

PARADISE ROAD

It is one of the well known places for tourists and they have several branches. It’s again not only shop but also mixture of café and art gallery. If you want to buy good quality stuff, this shop is probably one of the best in Sri Lanka. However, be reminded that good quality comes at a price. Their products ranging from home decoration, tablewears, textiles, books, spices, spa products and many more.

AYURVEDIC SPAS

The subcontinent’s traditional ayurvedic medicine morphs into a sublime spa experience at the Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa (33 Wijerama Ma, Col 7, siddhalepa.com) or Spa Ceylon, with its scents of white tuberose, red sandalwood and jasmine (Dutch Hospital, Park Street Mews, spaceylon.com). A warning: be prepared for days of oily hair or plenty of hair washing if you’re signing in for Shirodhara, where warm oil is continually dripped onto your third eye (forehead).

GEM & JEWELLERY SHOPPING

Sri Lanka is most famous for its blue sapphires, as worn by the British royals. Slip in to premier gem dealer Colombo Jewellery Stores for a quick education and check out the well-priced men’s watches while you’re there (1 Alfred House Gardens, Col 3, also Old Dutch Hospital, Galle Face Hotel, cjs.lk). Ridhi is a good stop for affordable silver jewellery (74 Lauries Road, Col 4, ridhi.lk).

CRICKET

Go to a cricket match. “There’s no sledging here, it’s just a big party,” swear the locals. Catch the internationals at the R. Premadasa Stadium. For more slap of leather on willow, pop in for lunch and current matches or old classics on the many big screens at the Aussie-owned Cricket Club Cafe, (34 Queens Road, Col 3, thecricketclubcafeceylon.com).

Sigiriya -The ancient kingdom built on a rock

Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya rock stands 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles. Its view astonishes the visitors with the unique harmony between the nature and human imagination. The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains.

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Since 3th century BC the rocky plateau of Sigiriya served as a monastery. In the second half of the 5th century King Kasyapa decided to construct a royal residence here. After his death Sigiriya again became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, when it was abandoned.

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Sigiriya Lion’s Claws

The main entrance is located in the northern side of the rock. It was designed in the form of a huge stone lion, whose feet have survived up to today but the upper parts of the body were destroyed.

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Sigiriya Frescoes

The western wall of Sigiriya was almost entirely covered by frescoes, created during the reign of Kasyapa. Eighteen frescoes have survived to this day. The frescoes are depicting nude females and are considered to be either the portraits of Kasyapa’s wives and concubines or priestess performing religious rituals.

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Sigiriya Mirros Wall

One of the most striking features of Sigiriya is its Mirror wall. In the old days it was polished so thoroughly that the king could see his reflection in it. The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya. The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century.

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Sigiria Ancient Water Garden

The buildings and gardens of Sigiriya show that the creators of this amazing architectural monument used unique and creative technical skills and technologies. The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Sigiriya has water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and also terraced gardens. They are located in the western part of the rock and are with a complex hydraulic system, which consists of canals, locks, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, as well as surface and underground water pumps.

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Getting there

Sigiriya is located 175 kilometers north-east of Colombo – the capital of the island, and 10 kilometers from the highway Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Trincomale, located between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane. To get there by car you must take the track A1 or A6. The best way to get there by public transportation is to take a bus from Dambulla. There is a bus every 30 minutes starting from 7AM. The trip will take approximately 40 minutes.

A staircase of 1250 steps is leading to the highest point of Sigiriya. The way from the bottom to the top lasts approximately 2 hours. Because of the high temperatures during the day it is better to visit the place in the morning. Wear comfortable clothing, take water with you and don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen.

Foreigners will have to pay $30 USD. This will also grant access to the Sigiriya museum. The ancient site is open every day from 7:00AM to 5:30PM (last entrance at 5:00PM).