Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sri Lanka

This was my most anticipated trip ever. I’d been wanting to go to Sri Lanka forever but after a couple of failed plans, opportunity struck as a week’s gap between two jobs. I would finally be seeing my place of birth after a good 27 years without the slightest recollection of what it ever looked like.  One of the biggest problems and at some points, advantage, of the trip would be that I went during off-season as it’s the time when Sri Lanka gets a good share of monsoon showers.

Day 1. - 16 Oct 2012
I land at Bandaranaike airport at 430 pm and head to Kandy. I’d reserved a hotel for my first night of stay, online, at a place called Elkudawa, some 20kms from Kandy as I needed a local address to fill in the online visa form. So once I was out of the airport, the first thing I did was withdraw cash from the ATM. I had taken Indian Rupees along with me that I ended up bringing back as places to exchange INR to LKR are very limited. After the withdrawal, I would get a local SIM card from the airport itself. Mobile network providers ‘Mobitel’ give pretty good deals for different regions. I just bought the SIM and got a top up for less than 2000 LKR and that would take care of all my calling needs during the week-long trip.

Once out of the airport, they have shuttle buses to the bus stop of Katunayake, from where I would get the bus to Kandy. There I would meet up with Benjamin, a friend whom I met through the couchsurfing website. I would catch up with him and discuss my trip and get tips.  At the bus stop a crowded bus finally comes for Kandy. It was too crowded to get on to, along with my back pack, but I decided to go ahead with it. It turned out to be a good decision as it was the last bus to Kandy. 

The conductor saw me struggling with my backpack, so he helped my by placing it on the gearbox. I would get a seat about an hour into the journey, again on the gearbox. The Sri Lankan countryside is beautiful. The locales and people are very Indian, though the people come across as slightly more westernized, more like Goans. The landscapes too, look very similar to Goa and Kerala. The bus was playing Sinhalese songs which also sound very Indian. Sinhalese songs can easily be mistaken for Hindi, Konkani or Malayalam. The journey to Kandy was fun, chatting along with the amicable conductor. Though his English was bad, it was good enough for a conversation. He would say things like ‘Sit anywhere, your country bus.’ pointing to the Ashok Leyland bus and ask questions like ‘You picnic? Alone picnic?’.

A good 2 and a half hours later, I would be in Kandy where the rains would welcome me. I’d wait for some 5-10 minutes after which I would meet Benjamin. By then, it was nearly dinner time and as I wanted something really Sri Lankan, Benjamin would suggest kothu, which is known as Kothu porotta in the South too. It is a dish prepared of shreds of bread(porotta) mixed with vegetables, meat and a slightly spicy gravy. Here luckily, the gravy comes separately. And they had a variant with cheese and ketchup. I went for prawns kothu while Benjamin had fish kothu. The restaurant also had a juice menu. The fruit called wood apple caught my attention. I’d never heard of it before, so I ended up having its juice. It’s a weird fruit to say the least and I would keep coming across the fruit and its juice everywhere on the island country.

 Over dinner, we would be planning out the trip, taking a few suggestions and sorting out things for the trip. After that I would head to the hotel at Elkudawa. Now this was a place not known to all, even at Kandy. Benjamin arranged a tuk tuk, (the Lankan word for a three wheeler) to the place. The tuk tuk driver charged 2000 rupees and pleaded ignorant about the place. We would have to do some searching en route.
Soon I would be riding uphill between dense forests. I could hear crickets and frogs as we moved uphill. En route, we also passed clouds. After a good 10 kms or so, the driver would stop to ask directions and come back with a nervous face. ‘This tuk tuk no go’ he said. He pleaded me to take another tuk tuk there. I wanted to tell him not to scare me as this was just my first day in a new country. But the driver talked to another tuk tuk driver and got me on to a new tuk tuk whom I would have to pay 300 LKR to. But the driver of the first tuk tuk paid the amount out of the 2k that I owed him. But in the process, I would forget my umbrella in the first tuk tuk. But luckily the driver was known to Benjamin and I could collect it later.

The next 13 km ride was pretty scary. It was the perfect place for a ghost to appear out of nowhere. Dark, dense jungles, houses at least a km away from one another. After asking directions and getting lost once, we were finally at the Green View Hotel Elkudawa. The room was big with a huge glass door that leads into a balcony from where we could see an entire valley. But that would have to wait till the next morning.

Day 2 – Pinnewala and Kandy

My first morning in Sri Lanka offered a spectacular view. An ocean of hills before me. Hills of all sizes  until the horizon were laid down before me. With clouds snugly placed wherever there was a gap. After a good breakfast, I would be checking out of the hotel as the last bus from Kandy to the hotel was as early as 430 pm. I decided to find a place in Kandy itself for the night.  So from the Green View Hotel at Elkudawa, I had to walk down half a km from where I would get a bus to Kandy. My first stop for the day would be the Pinnawala elephant orphanage that lies between Kandy and Colombo.

From Kandy, I would catch a bus to Kegalle from where I would get a tuk tuk to the place. The Pinnawala elephant orphanage is a place where elephants are brought in from different parts of Asia. Here they are treated for ailments and many of them end up living here. It’s quite a nice experience to get up close with the giant mammals.  They have three ticket rates, 2000, 3000 and 4000. The elephant ride would be longer depending on the charge.

The first thing you do at the elephant orphanage is you bathe the elephant. The mahout orders the elephant to lie down on the stream. You’re given a piece of coir which you rub on the elephant after splashing water over it. I had a young and smart guide named Chamila who would take me through Pinnawala. Chamila told me that the elephants enjoy the scrubbing, It’s like a massage to them. He was telling me about the different elephants and where all they have been brought from. He pointed to one and said that that very elephant, Lakshmi was the only elephant born there. Lakshmi’s mother was brought from India. Many others have been rescued and brought. Some after years of carrying loads were finally brought here. Such was the case with Bandara, the elephant I would ride on.

A 20 minute elephant ride through the small village was fun. Chamila would go on talking and taking my pictures. After which, he would take me through the elephant museum, a small hall way with elephant bones and information on the majestic species. Before the museum, lay a canvas with brush strokes all over it. Chamila told me that it was a painting created by the elephants. He named two elephants who painted it.

The museum showcased elephant bones, the rib, spine and pelvis. It also had a tooth on display, not a tusk. A 5 kg solid tooth. Chamila told me that an elephant has 4 of those. There was a tusk on display as well, but it was a replica, not an actual one. In addition, the museum also had a list of mahout commands that the elephant understands, differences between Asian and African elephants and the list of elephants at the orphanage and where they were brought in from.

After Pinnawala, I would head back to Kandy and see the city. En route, the tuk tuk fellow stopped at  ‘Saffron Super Spice Garden’, a garden where they grew spices and sold them. I just quickly went through them and headed to Kandy.

The city is simply beautiful. There’s something incredibly serene about the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The city is built around a small lake which is filled with all kinds of fishes and surrounded by birds. At one end of the Lake is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple houses the relic of a tooth of Lord Buddha. The story goes that the tooth was retrieved from Lord Buddha’s pyre. The tooth relic has quite an interesting history to it, which would call for another blogpost on its own.

The temple also houses a museum with objects and sculptures from all of South Asia and South East Asia. The most striking sculpture there was surprisingly from Pakistan. A Gandhara statue of an aged and fatiguing Buddha in meditation. While most statues of Buddha show the glow of an enlightened Buddha, this one depicted the hardships he went through to attain enlightenment. I really wish I could write more about the temple but one of the biggest stupidities of my trip was seeing a free audio guide at the counter only while leaving.

I would then visit the Mahaviharas, Malwatte and Asigira. These Buddhist complexes house the highest Buddhist priests. After the mahaviharas, I would while time walking around the  city. I dropped in to a shop for a break and for a bite. That’s when I noticed something called a smoking room. The Sri Lankan government had banned smoking in public so stores had a small smoking room where people would walk in, grab a glass of black tea, have a smoke and come out. Looked like a good idea.

After the snack, I would get back to roaming around the town. Just about then, at around 430, it started drizzling and I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. A tuk tuk driver saw opportunity in a lost foreigner and said there’s a Sri Lankan dance program. He took for 100 LKR for a distance that could be covered on foot in 4 minutes. But then, it was rainy and I needed the ride. The tuk tuk fellow's argument was ‘100 Rupees Indian price. Foreigner price 150’.

But the good part was that I would have a place to escape the rains as I had left the umbrella in the tuk tuk, the previous night. More importantly it was a good chance to discover Sri Lankan dance forms. The area conducting it is known as YMBA, a Buddhist counterpart of YMCA. Which also happens to be a question most graduates in India ask – Why MBA? No? Ok.

The cutltural program was from 530 – 630. 12 different Sri Lankan dance forms squeezed into a one hour show viz. Conch Shell & Drum Orchestra, Pooja Dance, Thelme Dance, Pantheru, Peacock Dance, Salupliya Dance, Raban Dance, Kulu Dance, Ves Dance, Group Dance and a Fire Walking Dance that would be held outside the auditorium. Yes, I brought home one of the pamphlets they were giving out, so that I could enlist the dance forms.

The Sri Lankan dance forms have strong South East Asian and Indian influences in movements and costumes. In addition, the dance forms had jerky moves and acrobatics. Their music and beats however are undeniably Indian.

After the program, I would go around looking for accommodation. Benjamin suggested a couple of places which unfortunately were full. In a turn of events, I would however end up at YMBA again. There they had very basic rooms with beds and mosquito nets and a common bathroom which was maintained spic and span at a very nominal rate of 600 LKR.  For dinner I had hopers, the Sri Lankan name for what we call vellayappam in the southern parts of India. It is basically a concave bread made out of rice paste which is prepared on a round bottomed vessel. The hoper takes the shape of the vessel. They had an egg variant where egg is fried on the hoper. The hopers were served with a Sri Lankan chutney made of tomatoes, onions and chillies.

After a filling dinner, I retire for the night. The next day I would be visiting Nuwara Eliya, a hill station 2 hours from Kandy

Day 3 – Nuwara Eliya

I get up early and by 730, I reach the railway station. Even though I was going to take a bus, I thought I’d try my luck with the trains. There was a train at 830 that costed 160 LKR. I thought the train was an experience I must have and the journey would prove me right. The train ride was a delight. Passing by the Hill Country, it offered a view akin to the scenic beauty one can witness on the Neelgiris and Darjeeling trains in India.

The train however took a good 5 hours as it took a longer route. But I have no complaints as the train ride itself is a great tourist attraction. The train passed through hills, valleys, cascades and mountains padded with tea plantations. I would have a good time chatting with locals and foreign tourists. The train finally arrived at Nanu Oya, the closest railway station to Nuwara Eliya, one hour by bus.

I finally reach Nuwara Eliya by 2. The last bus to Kandy was as early as 530. Which meant I would have to rush through the place. Besides the bus stop, is Victoria Park, which I decided to do later. I would get to the Hagkala Botanical Gardens first, a good 8 kms from Nuwara eliya, 15 minutes by bus. The entry charge was a good 1100 LKR. The Garden is well laid out with different sections allotted to different kind of plants.

One part I loved was the Fernery, a collection of ferns of every size. The place resembled Pandora from the movie Avatar. I didn’t have much time to go around the area as I had to be in time for the Kandy bus and I had to visit the Seetha Amman Temple, the only temple in the world dedicated to Goddess Seetha (Also spelt Sita, Seeta or Sitha).

One and a half kms down the road from the Gardens, the temple was located along a slope. The pujaris told me more about the place. It is believed that the temple is currently at a place which used to be Ashoka Vatika, the place where Seetha was held hostage by Ravana. Ravana was said to have lived on top of the hill where the Hakgala Gardens is now located. It was believed that he used to come down to the Ashoka Vatika through a tunnel. Nothing testifies Seetha’s loyalty like the fact that she wanted to leave Nuwara Eliya for Uttar Pradesh.

Besides the temple is a stream called the Seetha river. It is believed to be a place where she used to bathe. The pujaris also showed different colours of sand along the slope. The black soil is believed to be the ashes of the city that lord Hanuman had burnt down.  On a friend’s request, I brought some black sand too and then got going to Nuwara Eliya. Just as I stepped out of the temple it was raining. I took shelter in a shop straight opposite the temple. The rains just made the hill station all the more beautiful. As water fell from the sky, we could also witness rain clouds crawling up the street. Soon, I would catch the bus to Nuwara Eliya and once I reached there, the rains had slowed down.

Now I had less than two hours in hand before the bus. So I did the two best things you can do in Nuwara Eliya. Nothing in particular and well, nothing in particular. I spent a good hour walking around the place. The woods in Nuwara Eliya have a characteristic English smell. And with a nip in the air and rains, the place is the most English this side of the world could look or feel. Add to that, British style houses all around the area. It is no wonder that Nuwara Eliya is known as Little England. After an hour long stroll through the city, I would sit by the café at Victoria Park drinking some fine Ceylon tea gazing at clouds brush past trees on a distant hill. The place was magical.

I would catch the bus to Kandy and retire at the YMBA guest house. The next day, I would be heading to Trincomalee.

Day 4 and 5 – Trincomalee

I get up early and head to the bus stop. En route, I pick up my umbrella from a place where Benjamin had sent it and then leave for a rather drier part of the country. A good 6 hours from Kandy, I reach Trincomalee, also known as Trinco. Trincomalee is a place known for two beaches, Uppuveli and Nilaveli. Benjamin had told me that Uppuveli had some very reasonable places to stay. So I went straight to Uppuveli and took up a guest house for 1500 LKR for two nights. The owner of the guest house said that the rates wouldn't be this low, if it weren't off season.

So my first day in Trinco is spent just lazing by the Uppuveli beach. The beach is beautiful with white sands and a rather calm blue sea. There are shacks by the sea where one could have nice food and a drink. Uppuveli also has a scuba diving place. They charge 12000 LKR for a learning session. I thought of going for it, but on time, the owner of my guest house pointed out that the water would be mucky in this season and that I wouldn't get to see anything.

So the rest of the evening is spent lazing, eating and drinking by the beach. It was hard to believe I was still on the tiny island where I was walking amidst the clouds, the previous day.  The next day, I would go around Trinco. I would be shown around by the guest house owner’s son, Prasad, who drove a tuk tuk.

I wake up early and leave for Fort Frederick, a 17th century fort which is now a detachment of the Sri Lankan Army, though open to tourists. The fort entrance leads to a road uphill that ends in a Koneswaram temple of Lord Shiva. During the Dutch reign, they had attacked the temple and stolen a Shivalingam which is now restored in the temple. The view from the temple is phenomenal. You can see the Ocean all around and most of Trincomalee. There is a steep cliff just besides the temple, which is known as Lover’s leap. Quite an explicit name for a suicide point, I must say.

One striking feature at the Fort Frederick area is deers that are fed at the temple during evenings and walk around fearlessly through the rest of the area during the day. What’s more, they even pose for photographs.  Done with Fort Frederick, I would next head to the hot springs at Kanniya. The Kanniya hot waters are considered sacred by Buddhists and Hindus alike. Hindus believe that Ravana stuck his sword in the land and the hot springs came out. The hot springs just consisted of 7 different square shaped wells with hot water.

From there, I would head to Nilaveli beach and then to pigeon island, off the beach. The tuk tuk fellow who had been silent all the while started talking non stop when he knew I could manage broken Tamil  Most of the time, I made drivers manage broken English, but now was my time to be at the receiving end. After the hot springs as we went towards Nilaveli beach, we passed through this kachcha road. Prasad, the tuk tuk fellow told me that the area has a lot of Monitor Lizards. He told me that they taste very good.

Until we reached Nilaveli, he would tell me about deer meat, rabbit meat and all sorts of legal and illegal meat. He told me that if I stayed till Sunday, there would be pork. And that too, wild boars. He said, patronizing farm pigs. He also suggested we buy rabbit and have it for dinner. I liked the idea.

We finally reach Nilaveli after all that talk. The beach was beautiful, with dark blue waters and the waves were bigger than those at Uppuveli. From the beach, we could see an island with a lot of trees on it. That was pigeon island, a national park. The pass to the place costed 2600 LKR and an additional 1500 LKR for the boat. The coral island makes for a good view. If only I had gone snorkeling, it would have been all the more worthwhile. Even from the island, we could see coloured fishes. But you should go swimming into the water and you can see a lot more fishes.

But as we couldn't go swimming, we just thought of walking around the island, making our way through the rocks and trees. The island is called pigeon island because it houses loads of them. Talking of which Prasad again started on how pigeon meat was also delicious. He said that if roasted with potatoes, ginger and butter, they taste fabulous ad 5 pigeons are good enough to fill one’s tummy. I’m glad he didn't see a snake or porcupine.

After a good hour, we move on. We pay a brief visit at the World War cemetery where many soldiers, mostly English, died during the second world war by a Japanese attack on the island. I clicked a few pictures and then went to buy a Rabbit and then go to the guest house.

I would have Rabbit and puttu for dinner. Puttu is a steamed rice cake with coconut powder, also made in the southern parts of India. The Rabbit was cooked in an eclectic blend of spices. It was then topped with glistening red chilly paste. It tasted as good as it looked. After rabbit and puttu, I would move to take the night bus to Colombo. From there, I would be going to the historic city of Galle depending on availability of time. The night bus at 850 Rupees, is a luxury air conditioned bus with reclining seats and every seat comes with insurance. It would take 7 hours approximately. Which meant that I would reach Colombo at around 6 in the morning as my bus left Trinco at 11 pm.

Day 5 and 6 - Colombo

I reach Colombo as early as 5 in the morning completely sleep deprived. The bus was very comfortable and ideal to sleep. But they had to spoil it by playing a Tamil move and an English movie, back to back. Even worse, none of the lodges had opened and I was walking around aimlessly with a backpack. Prasad had warned me about Colombo being dangerous. He went on to an extent of saying that the only way your money can be safe is if you put it in your short pockets and wear a jeans on top of that. But then shortly, a tuk tuk would take me to a hotel at Mt. Lavinia, an area with a lot of affordable hotels.

I would get a deal of two days for 2500 LKR. And as I was sleepy, I had called off my plans for Galle. I had to remind myself that I was on a holiday, not on a mission of sorts. After a good sleep, I would set off to see St. Michael’s nursing home. No, it’s not a tourist attraction, just the place where I was born. This situation had all the making of a filmy situation. The protagonist sticking his head out of a three wheeler in anticipation, biting his nails and waiting apprehensively with an address in hand. But the situation was nothing close to all the drama. The protagonist was sitting back with a sleepy head and a hungry tummy realizing he hadn’t eaten anything since morning.

Soon, the tuk tuk would stop in front of a building named St. Michaels at Kollupitiya. As we reach there, the tuk driver went off to ask someone something in Sinhalese. He came back and said that the owner of the nursing home stays in some far off place. I wondered why he would say that. He then added that if I need any documents, I could go over there and collect it. The nursing home shut down some 20 years ago and it was now a residential complex. I asked the driver to relax. I just wanted to see the place. And see, I did. It was a nice feeling seeing the place I was born. For many, it’s a daily occurence. For me, It happened nearly 29 years later. It was a happy moment. Not emotional or overwhelming. Plain happy.

From there I would go to see the Galle Face beach. The beach at Colombo is World Class and so is the city. A tuk tuk driver told me that all this development was recent, after the civil disturbances ended in 2009.
That day and the next, I would just be living the Sri Lankan city life, experiencing Colombo. We would like to believe that Sri Lankans are hardly any different from Indians. Well it is true to a huge extent, but there are differences, one can’t help notice. The most important one being that Sri Lankans are not adventurous like us. They drive as if they and people on the streets have to reach home. On my flight from Chennai to Colombo, I had a German co-passenger ask me if we had driving schools in India. I didn't have a befitting reply and I still don’t

Sri Lankans have their share of fun and a much bigger share of fun without being ‘adventurous’. I also have to point out that they are way more cosmopolitan than us. The variety of cuisines available in Colombo can put all our major cities to shame. They have night clubs and casinos that are open all night long.  And cleanliness is another aspect that can not be missed anywhere in Sri Lanka. While planning my trip I’d read a testimonial by a firang who said he thought Sri Lanka would be dirty like India but then he was pleasantly surprised. I took offense of the testimonial, but I have to admit I too was pleasantly surprised by the way Sri Lankans have maintained their small country.

There was so much in Colombo to do and see, but I just managed a couple of places. Also being a lone traveler in such a happening city is not such a good idea. But out of the places I did go to, Cricket Club Café caught my fancy. Every cricket enthusiast would love the place. It showcases a lot of cricket memorabilia and the menu is a good read. They have dishes like Sangakara’s seafood platter, Ganguly’s grill and Nasser’s Napolitana pasta. Even though I’m not a big cricket fan myself, it was quite an enjoyable place. At the cricket café, I saw Sunderland play Newcastle United *like a boss*.

Another place that needs a mention is the Dutch hospital. A hospital that the Dutch had created, which then changed hands and became a police station, and is now a shopping complex with high end restaurants and fancy stores. One of the restaurants there is a high end restaurant specializing in crabs, called ministry of crab. It is owned by cricketers Kumara Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardena. I was also told that Sanath Jayasuriya had opened a new place called Quba with an amazing menu and music. The list of such places is endless and two days would be too less to try it all. So on my final day, I decide to go to the town of Negombo, a city that is closer to the airport than Colombo. The city is known for a lagoon, a beach and Dutch monuments.

Day – 7

I leave Colombo early, and catch a bus for Negombo, reach there as early as 930. After reaching there, I ask directions for the lagoon. I was told to take a bus for Ja Ela. I get off the stop and see that I was by a hotel Jetwing Lagoon. On asking the hotel people about the lagoon, they were kind enough to let me go and see the lagoon at the other end of the lavish hotel with a swimming pool as big as a lagoon itself. I clicked a few pictures of the lagoon and then got going from there.

As I stepped out of the hotel, I could see there wasn't much on the other side. I could see trees only up till another 100 meters or so. Making my way through the trees, I reach a beach! The beach was not as beautiful as those in Trinco. More or less, the kind of beaches we have on the outskirts of Mumbai, only cleaner. Walking down the beach, some locals were fishing with a rod. They let me try my hand at it. After failing miserably, I apologised and moved on.

Walking through Thalahena was a feeling of being back in Kerala. They say you’re not doing it right if you feel home while travelling. This however felt to be an exception. Thalahena is primarily a fishing village with sloppy roofed houses, like the ones we have in Kerala. The smell of fish all around and coconut trees in any and every direction. As I kept walking aimlessly through the village with another 6 hours for the flight, I suddenly get called by a local. He asks me if I’m from Pakistan. To which I reply I am from India.
I told him all about my trip and how I ended there to see the lagoon. The local told me there was a better place to see the lagoon than the hotel. He took me on his two wheeler and he was right. The view of the lagoon was indeed better. There were mangroves around and I was right in front of a bird’s nest that I was failing to capture from the hotel.

We then sat back at a tea shop where the local’s friend would also join me. Both of them Randheir and Ruwan were locals from the area living the good life in their native place. Randheir, named after a Bollywood actor worked as a bartender in a nearby hotel while Ruwan was more of an intellectual who worked as a journalist. He was also into drawing and music. We had a good time chatting for a few hours about life, music, India, Sri Lanka and everything in general.

They told me that Thalahena was a mere 200 m stretch between the lagoon to the east and beach to the west. Which meant they could see the sun rise at the lagoon with birds chirping and see the sunset at the beach on the other side. They said on weekends, they would go on a boat to one of the five tiny islands on the lagoon. They would carry their musical instruments along, catch fish, have a barbecue at the island and a couple of drinks. They told me to join them the next time I was in Sri Lanka. Though their English was not fluent, it was good enough for a decent conversation. Ruwan also told me that the lagoon had 22 different species of mangroves, the highest number in any lagoon in the world.

They would then take me for lunch to a nearby shack by the lagoon. Ruwan had done the art all around the café. It was brilliant to say the least. So we had lunch at a place besides the lagoons with mangroves on either sides with cranes and kingfishers paying a visit occasionally. For lunch, we would have a plate of mixed sea food rice. One portion could feed three people. Two things that you’re bound to see when you eat in Sri Lanka. 1, extra chilly and additional chillies. Despite the overdose of chillies, it never ruins the taste. 2. The portions are incredibly big. They often say that you can equate the size of portions with the host’s generosity. Going by which, I would say Sri Lankans have a heart as big as the Indian Ocean.

So after a good lunch at Thalahena, I would set off to see the Dutch fort and Dutch Canal at Negombo. The dutch fort is nothing but a 17th century arch that leads into a prison, for some reason. Before I could see anything more, it started raining heavily. I was into my last 5 hours in Sri Lanka and it started pouring as if it was holding back the rains for me to enjoy the week.
And enjoy is too small a word to describe my Sri Lankan experience. They say good things come in small packages. This tiny island packs quite a punch. And I've hardly seen anything. There are wildlife parks that I would like to visit. The northern tip of Sri Lanka, Mannar from where the Adam’s bridge starts/ends is now open for tourism from where you can get a boat ride around the bridge for 3000 LKR. There are more beaches, including Arugam Bay, one of the world’s best surfing beaches. The historical cities of Anuradhapura and Galle. And again, the nightlife of Colombo. There’s so much I’m leaving for later. After all, I badly need reasons to come back.