Sri Lanka

On Tuesday May 19th 2009, the President of Sri Lanka announced the end of the civil war that has ravaged the small island nation for over 30 years and deprived over 70,000 people their lives and future. The military captured all remaining territory previously held by the LTTE, and the military announced the death of the LTTE’s leader, Prabhakaran. By all accounts today should be a day of celebration as the country’s young, those under 30 years of age, have never known anything but civil war. And yet as I sit here and write during a new public holiday, fire crackers booming away in the distance, I can’t help but feel unsettled by the weight of suffering still going on, the lives lost to “win” the war, and the uncertain path Sri Lanka’s leaders will take: towards reconciliation or consolidation. Since I moved to Sri Lanka over two years ago Read full article…

Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 2

…Continued from Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 1 In the morning we drove an hour south to Tissamaharama and checked into our new hotel that would be our base for exploring Yala National Park and diving at the Great Basses. Peacocks are everywhere Hibiscus Garden Hotel. This is a fantastic hotel and quite affordable. The staff are great and very friendly. The pool was exactly what we needed to cool down after long days under the tropical sun. After checking into the hotel we arranged for a safari tour of Yala National Park. Almost all national parks in Sri Lanka only allow visitors to enter in jeeps. The park is home to a variety of animals including elephants (which we never saw) and the elusive leopard. The park is said to have the highest concentration of leopards anywhere in the world…although finding the shy nocturnal cat is still rare. Read full article…

Journey to South Eastern Sri Lanka-Part 1

During Tamil and Sinhala New Year Kay and I took a 5 day road trip down to the southeastern corner of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is so hot this time of year most people head up into the mountains for the cool weather. We had other plans. With the monsoon shifting from the West to the East Coast a dive site called the Great Basses becomes accessible. It is only safe 4 weeks out of the year and is said to be the best diving in Sri Lanka. We planned out trip so that we spent one night in the hill country in Belihul Oya, then a night in an ecolodge in Galapita, and finally two nights in Tissamaharama where we went on a safari in Yala National Park and then finally a day of diving at the Great Basses. We hopped in the car and hit the “main” roads. Read full article…

Sri Lanka Engagement Surprise in Unawatuna

After almost 2 1/2 years I decided it was time to propose to Kay. As many who are following my wanderings are aware, I had been stuck in the United States for about 3 months as I waited for my work visa to be approved. During this time I began planning the proposal for March and relying on friends to help sort out the details as I sat halfway around the world. Kay had no idea what was being planned behind her back. Once I returned I insisted that we go away for a weekend of scuba diving and relaxing on Unawatuna Beach. Kay had planned to do some work over the weekend….thankfully the computer never made it out if its case. Diving turned out to be a disaster. The sea was rough, and we were the only people crazy enough to give it a try. Withing 5 minutes our Read full article…

The Road to Maskeliya

In November my sister visited Sri Lanka, so we grabbed some friends, packed up the car and headed back to our favorite lakeside cabin, the Castlereigh Family Cottages in the hill country. You can see our previous adventures here. This time we decided to go on a hike rather than spend our time on the porch the whole time. Rather than go on an established hike, we decided to pick a mountain and climb it ourselves. We chose this mountain across lake where we could use the tea trails to reach the top. We drove around the lake and parked in front of a Hindu temple. I guess this is the way. This would not be the only time we asked the locals for help. The tea trails. Two tea pickers on their way to work. The long sticks are laid across the tea bushes. Only the leaves above the Read full article…

River House and the Galle Art Trail

It has been a busy few months and I have not posted to Todd’s Wanderings in some time. The following few posts will help close out my experiences in 2008 before I turn my attention to the new year. In September, Kay and I took a weekend trip down to the secluded boutique hotel the River House just south of Bentota. In October, we headed down to Galle for the city’s annual Art Festival in the old Portuguese and Dutch era fort section of town. The common room of the main house overlooks the river and invites nature inside. The hotel has only five bedrooms for seven acres of tropical gardens. There was only one other couple staying there so we felt like we had the place to ourselves. A view of the main house from the garden near the river. The garden below. We stayed in the bungalow by Read full article…

Hill Country Get Away

In the end of July, Kay and I and some friends packed up the car and wound our way up into the hill country for some cool weather, mountain views and a porch on the lake. We returned to Dikoya, just outside of small hill country town Hatton, where we spent the night after climbing Adam’s peak earlier in the year. Driving through Hatton we pass a statue of Ganesha. A common view from the road making the drive up and back a vacation to itself. All of the tea pickers tend to be older women working long hours and carrying heavy loads. Don’t ask me why she has a fishing pole… A Hindu shrine clings to the side of the road, and the edge of a mountain. Kay and I with Angles Falls behind us. We stopped here for some tea and the view at a small tea house Read full article…

Galle: Old Fort City by the Beach

In early July I took a trip down to the southern cost of Sri Lanka to the old fort city Galle and the surrounding beach areas. It is easy to forget how beautiful the Sri Lankan coast line is when you live in Colombo and are surrounded by endless cars all fighting to impose their own individual traffic rules on you. Just a 3 hour drive south of the city and you are greeted by empty tropical beaches, cocktails at sunset, and windy walks along the old fort walls of Galle. During the monsoon season the sea is predictable only in is inconsistency and dangerous rip tides. However, it is always nice to have a beach all to yourself. This area is a calm, swimming area from October-May. Locals sit on the wooden sticks and fish off of them during set times of the day. The fishing spots have been Read full article…

Where Butterflies Go to Die

In March I escaped the crowded city of Colombo and set out with three friends to climb the most famous religious mountain in Sri Lanka. Called by many different names, Adam’s Peak, “the place where butterflies die,” and Sri Pada (“sacred footprint”), the mountain is the second highest in Sri Lanka and is a center of religious pilgrimage for Buddhist, Hindus, and to a lesser extent Christians and Muslims. Adam’s Peak The conical peak looms 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) above the surrounding mountains and is one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated backdrops. Near the summit a 1.8 meter rock formation in the shape of a footprint is celebrated by Buddists as Buddha’s footprint, by Muslims as Adam’s (of garden of eden fame), and by Hindu’s as the Godess Shiva’s footprint. We decided to join the crowds and make the long climb up in the dead of night in order to Read full article…

Glimps of a free Batticaloa

In mid-March I traveled the 314 km (198 miles) road to the eastern district of Batticaloa. The trip took over 9 hours by car and while bumpy and long passed through some of the most beautiful areas of Sri Lanka I have ever seen. Lush jungle, sweeping plains, soaked marshes, and jagged mountains rolled by as we traversed from west to east coast. Through a stretch of national park peacocks ran unashamed along the side of the road, foxes scurried for cover as we approached, and an elephant stood uncompromising beside a rural store. In 2007 the Sri Lankan government militarily liberated sections of Batticaloa (and the rest of the East) that used to be controlled by the LTTE (the Tigers). The resulting mass displacement of people fleeing the constant mortar attacks and heavy ground fighting created a wave of internally displaced persons (IDP) throughout Batticaloa. Over 300,000 people fled Read full article…

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