Galle, Mirissa, Sri Lanka, Unawatuna

Going ALL the Way

My travels are coming to an end. Slowly slowly coming back to what people generally call reality.

It is August 2017. Soon i will be going back to Europe.ย I have about one week left in Sri Lanka. One week. Why not check out some beaches and temples? Take some rest before heading back to Colombo and Negombo ๐Ÿ˜€

 

A local bus with a funky interior design brings me south to Wellawaya. From there, I take another bus due south, to Mirissa.

 

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Once in Mirissa I take a tour on a scooter to Galle and Unawatuna

 

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I am surprised to find a Japanese Peace Pagoda which has an astonishing resemblance to the one in Vienna at the Danube. Same goes for the interior arrangement of the temple.

 

 

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Jungle Beach. Five minutes from the Peace Pagoda. I just had a dip in the ocean. Cut my feet and knees on the corals. Taking rest now. Enjoying the heat. Get lunch. Some locals invite me to celebrate their friend’s upcoming marriage. A lot of food. A lot of booze.

 

Along the coast I ride for about an hour until I reach Galle. I walk about aimlessly. There are quite a lot of tourists here. Most of them Dutch. Which makes sense as this is a Portuguese Fort built in 16C fortified and extended by the Dutch in 17C. I feel as if I have seen enough of Galle after about two hours. There are old churches and antique stores, the beach is not far and the view is terrific.

All of this, though, as interesting as it may be for someone interested in it – for someone who’s reallyย into it, seems to be not much more than entertainment for the many. An opportunity to take a selfie and another, and another. Some proof to show to others: “Look at us, we have been here.”

 

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Before and after Galle I chill out at the beach. Driving or walking around aimlessly is what I like most these days. Nowhere to go in particular feels great. Of course, there is also a certain restlessness in the mix. As soon as I sit down somewhere I feel like I wanna explore what is behind the next hill or what the next bay has to offer. On my offline map it only says “blowhole”…

 

 

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Sand and Sea before sunset

 

 

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Ella, Kandy, Sharing, Sri Lanka

Sweet Kandy, Bella Ella

SWEET  KANDY

In Kandy it is time of Perahera, the Buddhist festival. What is being celebrated, though, I couldn’t find out, really. (Something’s to do with Buddhas tooth being shown around… sammฤ-sambuddha would surely be amused…) Musical performances, people dancing, processions, and everything is pretty much over at around 9 p.m. when somewhere else, parties haven’t even started yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

  

To include that which does not run so smoothly, I have to state I have a hard time finding the Homestay. Buddha shows the way… and um, well… local people with their cellies help, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

   

Next day I rent a scooter and go northeast to visit Hunusgiriya Waterfall and explore Knuckle’s Range via Panwila-Huluganga-Bambarella. On the way, I stop several times cuz I meet friendly locals waving at me and pointing out a cemetery in the middle of tea plantations, guesthouse owners inviting me for tea and a chat. Sometimes I also decide to have a rest and snack some delicious vegetable samosas, checkout a tea factory, and enjoy the view over the hilly terrain.

   

At 5 p.m. I still have not reached Knuckle’s Range. It is getting dark (and chilly) soon so I make a U-Turn and go back to Kandy. On the way back I come across a ceremony at a temple in Madawala, a small village. I stop and sit down with the locals. Three monks come to chant and one of them gives a dhamma talk in Singhalese after that. A man called Bandara invites me to have dinner with his family.

When i finally arrive in Kandy, I notice how noisy it is because of Perahera. Many buses, construction sites, loud music, neon lights.

      

This is what Kandy looks like from the viewpoint of the White Buddha

   

   … … …

   

One of the things I like about Sri Lanka, I mean… apart from the delicious food, the hospitality of the people, the diversity of the natural landscape … is the transport system. Given there is so much talk on the web about the special train ride from Kandy to Ella I  decide to see for myself if all the hype is justified.

   

On the train from Kandy to Ella

   

   

   

Coming Going Coming Going Coming Going

   

BELLA  ELLA

   

Look, maaan, Nine Arch Bridge, right over there !!!


   

Ella is a beautiful place to be for a couple of days, a week even. There are opportunities to hike, e.g. Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak. Also, a nice walk to Nine Arch Bridge along the railway tracks. I was lucky to have an Indian friend named Vineeth at my side who knows a lot about fauna and flora (among other things). He pointed out the names of birds, butterflies and reptiles along the way and gave me the chance to hold a snake in my hand. Thanks, bro, in case you happen to read this, I had a great time with you and lookforward to meeting you in India ๐Ÿ˜…

   

Scootering around Horton Plains with my dear friend Vineeth singing songs with deep meaning

At Bomburu Ella Falls

   

Also, I have to say, I was really happy to stay at Ja’s place called “ostello”. Located on a hill with a wonderful view on Ella Rock and a sunrise to make the fresh Ceylon tea smell even more intense, this place is my base for some days. I am very grateful for being around like-minded travellers, have inspiring conversation and enjoy my breakfast which was different every day.

Yes it’s tiny, I know, but still, it’s a snake, a snake on my hand… and the snake charmer’s right ear

   

Having a break on our way to Ella Rock summit

View from Ella Rock!

The Dhamma is Everywhere!

   

A family’s potato field near Bomburu Ella Falls

  

Sunset as seen from Little Adam’s Peak

   

One morning, Vineeth and I rent a scooter and head towards Horton Plains approximately 30km west of Ella

   

When we return in the evening the ostello is fully booked. Nevertheless, we can stay as friends and even get breakfast for free the next morning. Oh my Buddha! Thank you, Papa Ja!

   

Batman in Rawana Cave, Ella

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Anuradhapura, Sharing, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

North of Kandy

Together with Pranavan, a fellow Vipassana yogi at Dhamma Kuta and student in Jaffna, I pay a visit to the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. We are there for around 4 hours to walk about, meet some Austrians, see flying foxes and indulge in the splendour of natural surroundings.

   

With plants, fresh air, and a good friend by my side, happiness comes naturally

   

Whatever grows on this pale blue dot in space… … and is reincorporated to make other things grow… … which again, will wither up and die… … just to contribute to the growth of another generation…

   

The story of a tree, the story of a man… interconnected invisibly

    

After that, Pranavan and I take the bus to…

   

Anuradhapura

   

Tending the garden, the temple within prompts me to visit some holy sites in the north of Sri Lanka. Not the far north… just a couple of hours bus ride to reach Anuradhapura, ancient city and capital of north central province. Historically, it is closely connected to Mahinda, the son of Ashoka who had taken refuge in the triple gem after being overwhelmed by the atrocities of warfare necessary to secure and expand his empire in 3rd century BC.

Together with Yuna, a french woman living in Barca, I venture forth to explore the area by bicycle. We see Bodhi trees with people sitting in a circle around it, chanting, praying to it as a wish fulfilling sacred magical plant. We come across white pagodas being renovated. We watch playful monkeys in trees and we wash our feet in the nearby river. It is hot and we’re sweating a lot. So the refreshment is more than welcome.

  

The Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, like a spaceship just landed

   

Green green green , can it get any greener?

   

After the sweaty bike ride to see various temples, ruins and sacred trees we decide to take a dip in the lake Nuwara Wewa. Next to where we jump in is the City Water Supply. We meet people doing laundry and intensive body soap scrub washing. Can you see the white stupa in the distance? I am told that is Mihintale.

  

Wonderful friendly family hosts at Lucky Holiday Home, Anuradhapura. A-ma-zing breakfast!

I enjoy my time in Anuradhapura a lot. The place I am staying at is called Lucky Holiday Home [affiliate link that is]. I highly recommend it. I find it hard to leave.

   

Sigiriya

   

Shortly before we, Yuna & Kimo, reach the summit of Pidurangala Rock …

   

We are lucky. The weather is clear, the view is great! Over there, Lion’s Rock looks more like an elephant if you ask me ๐Ÿ˜‰

   

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Dhamma investigation, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Dhamma Kuta

When I start a journey I usually start with a meditation retreat to collect myself, to be clear about the purpose of the trip. Similarly, when the journey comes to an end, as it must, I conclude my travel period with a meditation retreat to gather mind and body and to reflect on the many experiences I made throughout the trip.

   
Therefore, I choose to sit down and digest the myriad impressions at Dhamma Kuta Vipassana Center on top of a hill near Kandy. Especially after tending for the dogs and cats at Tikiri Trust I find this is a great way to understand raw existence and the suffering and compassion and love I have encountered there. Remaining silent for 8 days after so much barking at the animal shelter to come to terms with the lot of all beings, including my own.

   

View from the Dhamma Hall

   

   

Uphill, the light reflects on the stupa and meets the lens

   

Perfect spot to watch the sunset

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Kandy, Sharing, Sri Lanka

Cats & Dogs in Kandy

I took care of dogs and cats for about a week along with local workers, a french girl volunteering, and Padma.

Working at an animal shelter near Kandy certainly opened my eyes once again to the lot of the lesser fortunate ones. Well, in fact, the dogs and cats who came to Padma’s place are the more fortunate ones. They are washed, fed, oiled with neem and coconut oil if they have some skin disease, and wherever they shit and piss, it’s gonna be cleaned up shortly. They are cuddled and taken on the lap if they allow it. Most have wounds, inner and outer, be it a lost friend (Rosie), an experience of being kidnapped (Charly) and being beaten into submission, being abandoned.

At this place around 160 dogs and 60 cats (July 2017) find some rest. Finally, they don’t have to fear some person who intend to hurt or harm them in any way. What a relief that must be! To find, after years and years, a place where you are welcomed, a place called home.

Here are some impressions of where I volunteered. Just amazing how much they hunger for affection…

   

   
This world is beautiful. This world is cruel. Both statements are true and untrue. It all depends on what the world is for you and me. I think the world gives each and every one his/her share. I also think that sometimes that world is considered ‘unfair’.

In which way is the world something you have extrapolated from your experience, something you get estranged from? In which way have you incorporated your experience to create a world you really like to live in, and: is your perception something you take responsibility for?

   

And how much time do you find to play, my friend?

   

After having been neutered, three dogs nap in my room until the anaesthesia wears off

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