I wanted to take you with me on a little adventure again to Sri Lanka, in this Part 2 of our photo trip!
One of the most stunning things to see in Sri Lanka is Sigiriya- this enormous rock with a palace on top of it from the 5th century AD. You walk up a set various steps of steeps stairs, which at one point becomes a spiral, caged in staircase (not my favorite, I get slightly claustrophobic!) then more stairs to climb all the way to the top.
Here’s the view from the top!
There’s also these beautiful paintings from the 5th Century also- amazingly preserved as they were in a cave leading up to the palace.
Here are some of the views from hiking around Ella, the mountainous tea country where much of the country’s famous Ceylon tea grows. It’s stunning, with jungles and waterfalls around to explore.
If you want to learn more about the tea, check out my other blog on it!
I got to do a tour of a tea factory, which was pretty interesting I have to say…
Anuradhapura is an around 20 square km site of ancient Buddhist temples and grounds. Maha Bodhi, the oldest living tree in the world, which was taken from a branch of the original Bodhi tree that Buddha sat under when he reached enlightenment, is a central worship and pilgrimage spot within the grounds.
I’ve been to Bodh Gaya, the site where Buddha reached enlightenment in India, but the Bodhi tree there is known as the “great-granddaughter of the original tree, and is not directly from the original tree, as this one is!
Sri Lanka is over 70% Buddhist, but there is also a Muslim population and a Christian population (around 7%). Look at these beautiful children!
These pics were taken at the amazing Dambulla Caves- a series of 4 caves which protected these ancient Buddhas and paintings. It was mysterious and pretty Indiana Jones-like to explore each one!
(Below) is how the outside of the cave entrances look!
Oops – a little out of order, but these pics are taken from an adventure hike we went on in Ella to this amazing waterfall.
At some points you have to climb up the sides of rocks with some ropes…
And here’s me swimming up through out of the pretty waterfall pools to the cave behind. Have you ever seen pictures or videos from Asian countries where people put their feet in tanks of water and the fish eat the bacteria or fungus (or God knows what!) off your feet? There was some kind of those fish here, because it didn’t hurt… but as you swam or hung out in the water you could feel the fish nipping your feet the whole time!
Ah, our infamous crocodile walk! This wasn’t taken in one of the many national parks in Sri Lanka. This was our tuk tuk driver pulling over on the side of the road, and showing us where he knew some crocodiles lived! We were on foot through this marsh and he started throwing rocks at the trees above them to get them to jump into the water.
I can’t say it felt like the smartest/safest thing in the world, but here I am to tell the tale!
These elephant pics are from Minneriya National Park (this time we ARE in a park- unlike the casual crocodile jaunt or the time I got chased by a wild elephant in another part of Sri Lanka).
There’s something called “The Gathering” every August where dozens and dozens of elephants gather from everywhere and cluster together. It’s like a natural elephant convention!
Outside the park there is an elephant orphanage, where they help abandoned or lost elephants get healthy and put them back into the wild. Cuuute!!!
This is in Kandy- a very sacred temple that houses the Sacred Tooth Relic- or one of Buddha’s actual teeth, which was brought over from India. It draws Buddhists from all over the country to come for a sacred pilgrimage.
Pictures can never explain what is going on here: the annual Pera Hera.
I guess some people plan their whole trip to see this spectacle of a parade. We didn’t even know it was going on…but coincidentally happened to be there for it! It lasts for 6 days, culminating on the full moon.
Thousands of people bus into Kandy and line the streets, which are all shut down.
For hours (hours!) there are dancers, elephants, fire dancers, gymnasts and more. Think of the most fabulous parade you’ve ever seen and decorate it with a million Sri Lankan lights and spectacles and that is kind of how Pera Hera was.
By the end of the night all the kerosene was starting to really get to me though!
This incredibly intelligent man is a botanist at the Royal Sri Lankan Botanical Gardens in Kandy, and I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with him, as he gave me a tour and taught me a lot about the plants and trees in the gardens. He also wrote a book they sell in the gift shop there that is on my desk at home now!
Happy memories of Arugambay, the chill surf town we ended up at at the end of our trip for about 5 days. It was magical!
This is when we went canyoning and cliff jumping in the rain forest (getting covered in leached on the hike up!). It was kind of scary at first to trust them pushing you down rock slides and all…but it was amazingly fun and I emerged unscathed! (except for the leach bites!)
We got up one morning at 4 am to do a sunrise hike to this amazing Buddhist monastery and stuppa…
This was the cave temple before you ascend the last bit…
Here are all the fishing boats lining the beach at sunrise, just getting out as the surfers are getting in…
And that’s all! I hope you enjoyed our journey together. There will be many more!
I am soaking up all the inspiration I am still pulsing from from the trip, and will be writing more about this sacred place.
I will see you back here soon.
Lots of love, and thank you again for journeying with me! Travel is so good for the soul :).