A Travellerspoint blog

Part 2

3rd Nov 2018

Today was the best day so far. When we awoke this morning, we had a lovely view of the cloud in the valley.

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After breakfast we had a wander around the hotel.

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We saw this massive snail. It had an unusual shaped shell and was about 8cm long.

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We headed out at 9am to the Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple houses an important Buddhist Relic, a tooth of the Buddha. Stolen at his funeral, the tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess who fled from India. The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-storey shrine fronted by large elephant trunks. It is in the royal palace complex. During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. However, you don’t see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba, which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size. The entire complex is over three centuries old and has seen many a king’s rise and fall. It has seen bloody wars and peaceful reigns and is one of the most historical places still standing in Sri Lanka.
To get there we passed the big artificial lake called Kandy Lake.

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You can see the temple to the left.

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Before entering the temple there are lots of flower vendors selling flowers for offering to buddha. It smelt wonderful.

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As you enter the main gate and walk down the pathway you can see The Octagon and The Golden Canopy.

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We left our shoes at the shoe counter and headed inside. There were people everywhere.
First, we crossed a moat.

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Then we followed the worshippers.

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This wooden temple had beautiful art work all over it.

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We then entered another part of the complex. They had a moonstone entrance.

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Inside was another temple.

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You exited the temple from the other side. There were lovely stone carvings.

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We then moved on to a wooden prayer area.

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This is the old Royal Palace

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This was the Royal Baths

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We then headed out of the temple.

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We then travelled to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, which are the largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka.

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We first had a picnic lunch on the Great Lawn.

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After lunch we explored the beautiful grounds. There were lots of different areas.
The flower gardens

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Giant Bamboo

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With a family of macaques grooming each other

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Cabbage Palm Avenue

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Suspension Bridge

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A Candle Tree

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Along with heaps of other trees and plants.

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We could not believe we saw a cow in there. It had really long horns.

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There were also some birds.

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After a full day we headed back to the hotel and had a swim.

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4th Nov 2018

This morning was much clearer with no low cloud in the valley. We were in for a fine day.

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We said farewell to Kandy and headed three hours to Nuwara Eliya. Before leaving Kandy, we had a look through the university area. It spans 700 hectares.

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There was a really old ficus.

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We then started winding our way through the beautiful countryside. There were rivers and lots of waterfalls along the way.

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We stopped for a break at a lookout.

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There were soon tea plantations everywhere, so we visited the Blue Field Tea factory.

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We got to see the tea growing. It is an excellent location for tea production due to the cool climate, which creates tea with a unique flavour.

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We then went to the factory.

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We got to see how the tea was manufactured and learned how tea is graded. They use lots of machines to prepare the tea for drinking.

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Here is the finished product.

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We had the opportunity to taste a lovely cup of pure Ceylon tea.

We stopped at Ramboda Falls for lunch. It was a lovely spot to look out over the waterfall.

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We continued our journey slowly climbing to 1893m above sea level. The funniest thing this afternoon was seeing a boy in a red shirt on the side of the road trying to sell flowers. We passed him and then around the next bend he was there again. He had taken a short cut through the bush when we went around the bend. We passed him again and there he was again and again. By then he was puffing. The bus stopped and let him on. Everyone felt sorry for him so either bought a flower or gave him a donation.

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Along the way there were rows of tea plants as far as the eye can see.

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There were even terraces for growing vegetables.

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We then arrived at Nuwara Eliya.

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It is the main hill station of Sri Lanka and is known as ‘Little England’, as it resembles an English country town. We are staying at the Grand Hotel and you can see how English it looks. The hotel used to be the residence of the British Governor.

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We had a wander around the beautiful gardens. There were lots of flowers including dahlias and hydrangeas and hedges pruned into shapes.

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We then had a look around inside. We found a billiard room where the tables were over 100 years old.

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There was another lovely room with a piano playing.

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We then had a drink in the wine bar. It was all timber and really lovely.

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5th Nov 2018

We departed the green hills of Nuwara Eliya. Just outside of town was a Hindu temple with gold all over it. The detail was amazing.

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We continued towards Udawalawe until we stopped at Rawana Falls.

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After 5 hours of driving, we arrived in Udawalawe where we had lunch. Whilst there I found a pond which had an unusual frog in it.

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There was also this amazing dragon fly.

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We then continued on to the Elephant Transit Home. Here we learned about the care of orphaned and abandoned baby elephants. The home provides them with food, shelter and medical care before they are released into the Udawalawe National Park. This was lots of fun. The elephants are in the Udawalawe National Park but come to be fed 4 times a day. They know when feeding is so arrive in time for the feeding.

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There was one elephant who had been segregated as it was not well. It was having a mud bath when we arrived.

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Slowly they allow the elephants in 3 or 4 at a time. They came running. You would have thought they hadn’t been fed for a week, but their last feed was only 3 hours prior.

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They know exactly where to go, and no sooner do they arrive at the feeding station their trunks go up and they suckle the tube. The milk is then poured into a big funnel.

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Once they have had their milk they continue grazing on grass. There were babies of all different sizes.

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After they had all been fed, they herded them up and sent them back to the National Park.

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The elephants all looked so healthy and happy, so it is nice to think they are being rehabilitated so they can return to the wild.

We then drove a further three hours to Yala National Park. Yala is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka and is most famous for its herds of elephant. It is also home to many other wild animals, including boars, buffalos, leopards, bears, dears and crocodiles. Hopefully tomorrow we will get to see most of these. It had been a long drive and we arrived just after dark.

6th Nov 2018

Today was safari day in Yala National Park. This morning we were up at 5am to do an early morning safari and then we did a late afternoon one too. We decided to spend some extra money and have a private safari for just the two of us. We enjoyed the time by ourselves and saw a lot of wildlife but unfortunately, we did not get to see a leopard.
The park scenery varied from thick lush green shrubs to rocky outcrops to water holes.

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When we arrived in the park, we were lucky enough to see two bull elephants eyeing each other off. You could see there was going to be trouble. You could hear bushes and trees cracking where they were trying to get to each other. They did end up having a bit of a confrontation and it spilled out onto the road.

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There were spotted deer everywhere. They were quite timid and hard to photograph. They did not hang around for long.

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We were surprised by how many crocodiles we saw in the park.

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There was wild boar everywhere.

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We even had them wandering through our hotel with their babies.

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By mid afternoon it had got quite hot. The water buffalo were cooling off.

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We took this small track and there was a water buffalo bathing in a deep hole on the road. We had to go around him as he had no intention of moving.

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We also saw a mongoose.

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A black-naped hare.

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A chameleon

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We also saw lots of bird life on the safari.

Peacocks and Hens

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Sri Lanka Junglefowl – which is their national bird

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White-bellied Sea Eagle

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Changeable Hawk Eagle

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Indian Pitta

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Malabar Pied Hornbill – We were lucky enough to see a male and female together. The female has the white ring around her eyes.

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Little Green Bee-eater

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Blue Tailed Bee-eater

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Parakeet

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Indian Pond Heron

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Greater Sand Plover

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Grey Heron

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Black Backed Robin

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White-throated Kingfisher

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In between safaris we had a walk around our hotel. It is called Cinnamon Wild.

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This was our bungalow.

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It is a lovely spot right by a lake with lots of bird life.

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Some of the birds were:
Spoonbills

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Spot-billed pelican

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Painted Stork

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In the middle of the lake is a small island.

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It had sun bathing crocodiles on it. We now understand why after dark they ask you to ring reception and get escorted to dinner. Although we are just outside the park there are still crocodiles, wild boar and elephants that roam by the hotel.

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It was almost dark when we returned, but the lake looked beautiful.

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7th Nov 2018

We went for breakfast and were lucky enough to see a Giant Squirrel. The staff had given it a piece of fruit.

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We then had one last opportunity to see the birdlife in the lake.

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We headed off at 8am today as we had a big drive along the coast and up to the other side of Sri Lanka.
We drove through Tissamaharama, also known by the name of Mahagama. In the ancient times it was founded by Prince Mahanaga, brother of King Devanampiyatissa in the third century BC. The settlement rose to prominence during the reign of King Kavantissa, father of King Dutugamunu.
There were quite a few dagobas.
This is Yatalaya Dagoba.

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There was a moat around the dagoba with elephants shaped with bricks.

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This was another one as we went through town.

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After 3 hours we had a longer stop at Mulkirigala Rock Temple. This cave temple contains Buddha figures surrounded by wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. It is believed to have been constructed in the 3rd century. It is built on a 205m natural rock.

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There are over 500 steps and 3 levels to get to the top of the rock.
Level One

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Level Two

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Shane got a blessing

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We then continued up to Level Three.

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Half way up there was a small dagoba to the side of the path.

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There was a bigger dagoba at the top.

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We went a different way coming down and the steps were cut into the rock.

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On the way out, we couldn’t miss the big smiles on the faces of the children at the school. They were so happy, friendly and happy to talk with us. They all posed for a photo.

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Our next stop was Dikwella Wewurukannala Temple which is one of the most remarkable Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple is dominated by the largest Buddha statue in the country, which stands at 50 metres high.

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We had lunch in Dikwella on the coast. The scenery was lovely, and it was nice to have a sea breeze to cool you down.

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We then visited the Hummanaya Blowhole. It is the second largest of the six large blowholes in the world, located at the top of a fissured cliff about 20m above sea level. It was difficult for the bus to get there so we took a tuk tuk (they call them three wheelers here).

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There were lots of school children at the blowhole and they were all shrieking whenever the spray came up. It was lovely to hear them so excited. You can see Shane in his blue t-shirt amongst their white school uniforms.

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Our last stop was to view the famous stilt fisherman at Welligama. A tradition kept alive by only 500 families, the fishermen balance two metres above the water on a cross bar tied to a vertical pole, planted underwater. With one hand, they hold the stilt and the other their fishing rod. A truly remarkable sight! What made it even more beautiful was arriving at sunset.

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We then arrived in Ahungalla. It was now 8pm so we had been travelling for 12 hours. It is a small coastal town located in the Galle district, Ahungalla is the perfect spot to relax and admire the sandy beaches. It was dark so we are yet to see them.

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:59 Archived in Sri Lanka

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