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… sammā-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 😉

  

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 😉

   

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 😅

   

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 😉

   

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Indonesia, Java, Yogyakarta

Joooogjaa …  Jogja !!!

Borobudur Buddhist Temple from northwest

   

Prambanan Hindu Temple from afar

   

Misty morning at Borodbudur… I like that photo.


Visiting the famous temples – UNESCO world heritage since 1991 – is only one of the highlights of my stay in Yogyakarta or, as the locals love to call it, Jogja 😉 I find the price gap between locals and foreigners exaggerated. Locals pay IDR40,000 while foreigners pay IDR520,000 to visit two temples. I struggle at first, but in the end I accept it. Tourism is a market, and as such its game rules of Supply & Demand simply have to be acknowledged.

At Prambanan Temple (originally built in 9th century CE, like Borobudur) there is a museum with artefacts, statues, photographs, and also a film to watch about history, architecture and the epic story named Ramayana (part of Bhagavad-Gīta).

   

Borobudur, at the base

   

My friend Dhika and me


Candi Borobudur is impressive. There has been a lot of work involved in the restoration and conservation of this temple. Its construction presumably took place between 800 and 900 CE. Original purpose unknown. Much folklore and mystery revolve around abandoned Borobudur until part of it was restored in 1911 by Theodoor Van Erp. Another period of renovation took place between 1975-82 by the Government of Indonesia and UNESCO. Today it is part of UNESCO World Heritage and used for annual ceremonies like Vesakh and as a tourist attraction with must-see status. (Be aware, don’t let anyone tell you what you have to see or what you mustn’t miss out on! Remember you can always practice JOMO)

   

Great to walk around on a sunshiny day in the Prambanan temple park

   

My Homebase

I am very lucky to find such hospitable, generous and thoughtful hosts here in Jogja. Dhika picks me up from the bus station. Having arrived at his newly created home he shows me my room. I am tired after ten hours night bus ride from Malang. So he lets me sleep in a big bed for a couple of hours. When I wake up, food is served by his amazing sister Dini.

When I arrive I intend to stay for 2 nights. It all turns out otherwise. In the end, I stay for more than a week and skip volunteering in the north of Jogja.

We cook together. Eat together. We visit temples and go to the beach. i also get the chance to give Ohashiatsu treatments and learn some more Bahasa Indonesia with them. Whenever I mention what I would like they always find a way to make me happy! Sometimes even to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable for me because it seems they change their own plans and practice renunciation only to make my life easier.

I am so grateful to have friends like you who treat me like family. You are mosdef three reasons to come back and visit Jogja again. I will check the sixpack, Dhika, and we go up Mount Merapi, finally!


So … what’s the most important tourist attraction of Indonesia?

The PEOPLE!

  

My wonderful hosts Ndi, Dini and Dhika cared for me in Jogja at 3DI Backpacker’s Guesthouse. Together we go to the traditional market, to the beach, to an Indian Restaurant, to the temples…

   

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Bali, Sharing

Balinese dancers at traditional Buddhist ceremony

I was staying in Pemuteran at Mango Moon Guesthouse. Putu & Kadek did everything to make my life more beautiful there. Kadek Suparma is also a diving instructor! Well well well… Time for some fun dives. And so I went to Menjangan Island off the Northwest coast of Bali. No GoPro Cam, no pictures. Instead, some pictures of my visit at the largest Buddhist temple in Bali. Also, a video about the ceremony I attended.

   

Thai monks from Wat Pha Nanachat invite Andrea and me to join a traditional Buddhist ceremony at the Balinese Temple Brahma Arama Vihāra

   

   
   

The Chief monk explaining what is going to happen and why (in Malay and Thai)

   

Thank you, Terima kasih for posing, ladies!

   

Thank you Master Gotama

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Bali, Bedugul, Sharing

Motivations of giving

Doddy and me had just met yesterday evening – it so happened we stay at the same guesthouse. We share some stories and he tells me he goes to Surabaya the next day. Sure he can give me a ride to Pemuteran – he is happy to do so! We are meant to start at 5 a.m. But for some reason we leave two hours later. Ok by me. Going back to bed for another two hours I listen to this:

https://youtu.be/wTFLC_81dM4   
   

We go south from Bedugul (Hotel Melita, IDR150,000/double room)… I had scootered there from Ubud with an Italian guy named Andrea: Mille grazie amico!

   

My Italian travelmate Andrea & me on scooter ride to Bedugul. A taxi driver wanted IDR500,000 for the ride from Ubud to Bedugul. So we rented a scooter for 1/10 of that and went up north by ourselves. Thank you, Andrea, for taking me along with my big backpack 😉

   
   

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan (Temple at Lake Beratan, in Bedugul, Bali)

   

   

So from Bedugul Doddy goes south to do some business, and from there he goes to Surabaya where he lives. He brings me all the way to Gilimanuk. So generous! Inviting me for breakfast (Nasi pecel) and offering to help out as a guide next time i am travelling Indonesia. Please bring some friends along so We can make a group tour, he says, and keeps on repeating also when I visit him in Surabaya a week later. So, my dear reader, now you know that I know a guy who can help you with organising a trip to Bali-Lombok-Flores-Timur!!

   

Wonderful Buddha statue at Brahma Arama Vihāra, Bali

    

12 links of paticcasamuppada – Dependent Origination on the steps of the Biggest Buddhist Temple in Bali (Brahma Arama Vihāra)

   

Ignorant fools, aggressive, greedy minds, closely related to humanity

   

Oftentimes I suspect people expect something from me in return. That might be true in some cases. Sometimes, though, the generosity of some person I meet is genuine and his/her only motivation is to give without wanting something back (and be it only a loose connection to that Austral… European traveller). Anyways, I have to make a confession of being somewhat stingy at times. Having arrived here at yet another paradise in Bali – a shadow cast over dat place – all I can think of is to save money by negotiating the price of accommodation. I am ashamed of how I acted. Even if it is common as a backpacker to negotiate and to try saving a buck – I have come across people who truly excel at this pastime, made it a sport even (“look, I’ve only spent 100 rupiah in a month” etc. etc.) – even so, I sense that I hurt Putu by my attitude, the lady welcoming me at their homestay in Pemuteran. I regretted this and told her I am sorry as soon as i could muster up the courage to do so. Stinginess hits me sometimes. I would like to be inspired by the generosity of the people I meet. Or is it that I am generally generous, grateful and giving? Am I being too harsh with myself? Like a white cloth on which a small stain of stinginess is all the more visible than on a dirty rag? Who can tell? Who knows my innermost drives, values and motivations… but me? All I know is that I don’t particularly like myself in survival mode!

Maybe it has brought the species where it is nowadays. Be that as it may, suspicion and mistrust remains a nasty habit nonetheless. So I give the tuktuk driver some more than he expects, something more than what we agreed upon. Surprised, he looks at me and smiles… and tells me my next ride “if you go to airport or whatever, sir” is free of charge. Now I am surprised.

Too surprised to get his phone number.

And off he goes.

   

Sun sets over rice fields on our way back to Bedegul, Bali

   

Suspecting others to take advantage of me and trying to make the best deal. I need to change my view if my actions shall habe a more gentleman touch. Simply ‘wanting’ to be more generous does not work. It’s gotta be in the spirit of wuwei – not forcing it. Advice is appreciated, dear readers? how do you deal with this issue in your life? Are you aware of why you are giving time, money, resources, smiles? Do you expect anything in return? Are you disappointed, even angry, when someone is ungrateful? Do you identify yourself with the giver? Do you use giving as a means of self-aggrandizement? Do you think you can only give once you have enough – and when will it ever be enough?
   

This has helped me along my journey:

   

“Any wish, any desire, any activity in the mind is dukkha, because all thinking is forever moving. Movement is irritation, which creates dukkha, and can never be totally fulfilling. if we think about the past, for instance, we bring it into the present. If that past was unsatisfactory, we wish it had been different, thereby causing ourselves a lot of needless suffering. We should let the past rest. […] Equally, if we bring the future to mind, hoping for something we want, or praying that some other thing will not happen, we bring that also into the present and with it, dukkha. We need to look at ourselves honestl, though without judgment, and recognize how frequently we do this and how foolish it is.”

Ayya Khema

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