Sri Lanka 1
[ ] Colombo
[ ] Kandy
[ ] Nuwara Eliya
[ ] Ella
[ ] Yala National Park
2018.12.10 - 2018.12.19
ILLFORD HP5 PLUS 400, FUJI 200, KODAK PRO IMAGE 100, FUJI SUPERIA PREMIUM 400
I remember eating my last HK meal on December 8, 2018, not exactly sure what the hell I thought I was doing.
Sidenote: I remember Bourdain mentioning that whenever he flies in/out of LAX he always stops by In-n-Out burger for a fill up. Like a hello and goodbye to the city. I loved this idea and adopted it for my visits to Hong Kong. I got giddy listing up candidate restaurants to award. Place should be hyper local, not pretentious, and serve food I could consider my "last supper". Quickly roads led to Sister Wah, home of my favorite Beef Brisket in the city and steps away from my parents apartment. For future family trips I would drag my family members here to join in the ritual.
By morning I would be in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. I had given myself a month in the country with a vague skeleton of an itinerary. I arrived just after midnight and was thankful to have arranged transport to my hostel from the airport, albeit I paid 3 times the street price for the ride. I learned many years ago that haggling with local taxis when exhausted is a recipe for disaster.
Started my first day with an avocado shake at a local juice shop. Walking the streets of Colombo felt great - like a safer India. That first few days of disorientation in a new place is so special. All the new smells, colors... RULES are not fully known. Locals were smiling and willing to joke and play with me. Everything looks beautiful. I had some leftover BW film from Hong Kong and enjoy shooting everyday life.
On the second day while walking through the market I had a feeling I was being followed. After years of watching Homeland I immediately turn on my best Saul Barenson and quickly slide into a building entrance undetected. There I caught the glimpse of 2 men in their 30's who looked very suspicious who had earlier in the market intentionally bumped into me and said something in Sinhala or Tamil that seemed aggressive. I stayed put for a good 15 minutes. Once I felt like the coast was clear I got out of the building, out of the neighborhood and snuck into the nearest barbershop and shaved my stubble. I know when I'm in danger and I was pretty sure that situation could have ended differently, not in my favor.
For one sunset I head to the Galle Face Beach where a slew of street vendors are hawking foods along a promenade. A beautiful scene takes place as the sunset turns everyone into silhouettes. I decide on Nana's King Beach Side Food, A Halal fast food joint which did not disappoint. The chicken briyani was so killer.
After a couple of days in the city I'm ready to move. I decide to head to the hills of Kandy. This would be the first train ride of the trip, and the start of a love affection for all trains in SL. Many of the train cars are doorless allowing you to sit in the doorway as the train is speeding by these amazing landscapes of tea plantations and towns. It's like an open invitation to the landscape, town, city, country. The wind on your face feels amazing.
Kandy is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Colombo, but as soon as I step off the train, all I could think about was my next ride. In Kandy I try and not do too many tourist activities but eventually give up and visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which stores one of Buddha's teeth. But not even Buddha's tooth can keep me from another train ride, this time feeling the rush of movement towards another mountain town, Nuwara Eliya.
Nuwara Eliya is similar to Kandy but smaller in scale. Perfect. While walking through some backstreets I befriend a retired accountant who invites me into his home for tea. His home is a concrete structure with an open stairway, decorated beautifully with accentuated brass ornaments and antiques. He talks at length about his accomplished daughter who is studying to be a doctor in Boston. What a lovely experience. I had read the locals in this town were friendly but I was not expecting a invitation to tea time :-)
At this time in the trip I've found my travel legs and am comfortable enough to be both falling in love with the beauty of the country and the thrill of travel. The following day I arrange a day trip to the infamous Horton Plains, a national park situation 2000 plus meters above sea level. The plains are a beautiful escape from the small city, albeit full of tourists. Luckily the park is so big that it's not too ruined by their big busses. Here I spot my first Sambar-deer and Sri Lankan Junglefowl. Spectacular!
Nuwara Eliya is a pretty mountain town with a railroad running through and along a mountain. There are only a number of trains passing daily so walking along the tracks is common local practice. It is in Nuwara Eliya where I meet a young boy running a cafe along the train tracks called the River Face Restaurant. I befriend him and visit him every day I am in town. I help him register his business on TripAdvisor, a big thing for local businesses trying to attract foreign tourists. In return, he guides me up a local mountain to see the sunset. We continue to keep in touch well after I return home to Japan. Bless his heart.
It is also in this town where I befriend a young Frenchie. We end up hitting it off very well and I am very appreciative of the insightful conversations we shared. I remember reading that even though the amount of time spent with the people you meet along your travels does not add up to your close friendships back home, they are a special kind of connection. I believe there is a part of your brain that turns on only while traveling, and when people on this high encounter eachother the connections are fleeting but deep. Anyways, over the following two weeks the Frenchie and myself meet up in multiple different towns and enjoy speaking of travel and life.
From Nuwara Eliya I then hop on a train, bus, and van to reach my next destination, Yala National Park, where I've come to join a Safari and if lucky, see a leopard. A group of 7 or so foreigners cram into a fixed up pick up truck and spend the day running around the national park, trying to spot various animals. I got quite car sick as soon as we drove off the cement road but apparently we encountered loads of elephants and the tail end of a leopard.
Safari was fun but the next chapter in SL is days of tropic chilling in locations along the coast.
Travel is bliss.
Hi there I'm Jordon.
Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to enable comments on this site but i would love to hear from you by email at jordoncheung [attttt] gmail [dot] com ✌🏽