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Pictures of our Sri Lanka trip
[Part 3: Ella - Haputale - Tissamaharama - Tangalla - Galle - Colombo]
Part 1: Colombo - Negombo - Sigiriya - Dambulla - Colombo - Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya (before Kandy)
Part 2: Kandy - Anuradhapura - Polonnaruwa - Batticaloa - Arugam Bay - Ella
Sri Lanka Map
    Map of South Asia
latest picture: May 25, 2011
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142  We are 9 miles above Haputale
in the most famous tea region of Sri
Lanka, where on the mist covered
mountain slopes the popular Lipton
tea grows – today managed by
the Dambatenne Tea Factory
143  A sign is pointing to the
“Lipton’s Seat” – a view point at
6’463ft. altitude, named after the
Scottish pioneer Sir Thomas Lipton,
from where he ‘surveyed’ his tea empire
144  A stony all weather road leads
through the lush rolling Lipton tea hills
After two relaxing days, we are ready for new discoveries. On a scenic mountain road we penetrate further into the “Hill Country”, from 3’400ft. altitude in Ella to 5’200ft. in Haputale, situated on a small mountain ridge. On our way, near Bandarawela, sits the small but fine Dova temple with its impressive, although a bit neglected 13ft. tall Buddha cut into a vertical rock. It watches over the cave shrine.
145  While we are climbing higher
into the mountain mist, we encounter
some tea plantation workers …..
146  ….. they are repacking the
harvested tea leaves and
loading them to a truck …..
147  ….. a special team is
providing them with hot tea
From the moment we enter it, we can hardly take our eyes off the Buddha statues and the beautiful murals, painted in the Sri Lankan Buddhist style that cover the entire walls and ceiling. Happy about this unexpected treasure, we proceed to Haputale. We like this small mountain village at first sight. It becomes our favorite spot in the Hill Country. In the Sri Lak View Holiday Inn we get a room with lovely view. It costs Rp. 2’500 (US$23) a night, including a rich breakfast.
148  Mist climbs from the valley
conjuring always new mystical moments
149  The 9 miles one lane climb from
Haputale to the Lipton’s viewpoint at
6’463ft. altitude is a beautiful adventure .....
150  ..... it reveals over and over
again beautiful sceneries
Wafts of mist moving from the valley are performing mystical moments on and off. We are in the most famous tea region of Sri Lanka. There, where the Scottish pioneer Sir Thomas Lipton started his tea business in 1890 and where the famous tea is still growing today on the foggy hills. A single-lane all-weather road climbs nine miles through endless tea fields up to the Lipton View Point at 6’463ft. altitude offering beautiful outlooks. Sir Thomas Lipton used to ride up to survey from here his tea emporium.
151  The mist has lifted and during
our descent, the endless tea
bushes shine in a lush green
152  Tea pickers line up to deliver
their harvest at a collection shelter
153  The sun sets in Haputale
We watch the hard working tea pickers – women – who always have a smile and a wave for us. Half-way, we pass a collecting point, where the full harvested bags with the delicate leaves are repacked and loaded to a truck. On the other side of the road tea is boiled in a huge pot and distributed to the workers. Interesting is the small tour in the ‘Dambatenne Tea Factory’. It shows us the processing of the tea: The drying, rolling, cutting, sieving and the fermentation of the different qualities.
154  Three-wheelers dominate the
traffic in Haputale, situated at the
Southern edge of the Hill Country
and at an elevation of 5’184ft.
155  A two-storey shop in the
center of Haputale, selling flags
on the upper and fruits and
groceries on the lower level
156  Though the „railway crossing“
sign in Haputale looks somehow
out-dated, the train is still running
Next day we say good-by to the green tea hills and head towards the South and the heat along a scenic, but narrow and potholed mountain road. There is hardly any traffic. We cross the Diyaluma water fall, cascading 561ft. down a cliff, making it the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Avocados and grapefruits are sold at a road stall – for four avocados and one grapefruit we pay Rp. 150 (US$1.35). Three miles further, we reach again Wellawaya, in the heat of the plains. From there, the A2 highway runs straightaway South to Tissamaharama, called “Tissa”.
157  View from the mountain road over
fertile rolling hills towards Bandarawela
158  Highlighted by the sunrays, the trees
tower ghostly towards the dark sky
159  Always a refreshing sight: A
butterfly sucks the nectar of a flower
The „Tissa Wewa“ – the Tissa Dam - attracts us at first go. The knobby trees with its huge branches standing in the calm water, the green ribbon of reed, the wide carpets of water lilies and the many species of birds are an idyllic site. We see flocks of green parrots flying past, kingfisher sitting quietly on a branch and black cormorants and white egrets that in the evening cover the tree tops. Incredibly beautiful is the mood late afternoon when the setting sun transforms the water lily carpet into a golden ribbon – a moment that fills all our senses. However the Vikum Lodge, mentioned in Lonely Planet guidebook as “our pick”, is an absolute disappointment. We would call it a “dilapidated and mosquito infested guesthouse”.
160  The impressive 13ft. tall standing
Buddha is watching over the Dova Cave
Temple, situated 4 miles Northeast of
Bandarawela along the road to Badulla …..
161  ..... side-by-side sitting Buddha’s
under an overhanging rock in the
Dova Cave temple
162  ….. beautiful murals in
“Sri Lankan-Buddhist style” adorn
the walls of the Dova Cave temple
After a peaceful breakfast at the lake shore we continue our inland journey under a blue sky dotted with white towering clouds. With the town of Hambantota we reach the South Coast with its long and lonely beaches. Hambantota having been almost completely wiped out by the Tsunami, a new international airport and harbor are now under construction – no doubt also in view of the 2018 Commonwealth Games hosted here. But may be also because President Mahinda Rajapaksa was born in this district. Certainly the overstretched city of Colombo will get relieved.
163  Steep descent to the Southern
plains from the mountain ridge
in the Haputale region
164  This is not the script of Switzerland
– no, we are not in the Swiss Alps!
165  View from the mountain region of
Haputale towards the Southern lowlands
30 miles West of Hambantota, in Goyambokka (2 miles West of Tangalla) we discover an inviting spot to stay for a couple of days. Our bungalow at the Green Garden Cabanas & Resort sits between palm trees, flowering frangipani with white blossoms and high cashew nuts with golden fruits. The same spot is also home to two old horses, two lovely dogs, two pitch black puppy dogs, squirrels, a monitor lizard, a red-backed woodpecker and other birds. When night is falling and the birds have settled to sleep on their trees, a deep silence falls all of a sudden. The only sound are the roaring waves from the nearby sea. We are missing nothing. Even the food in the restaurant is right. We eat the most delicious vegetable curry ever.
166  On the windy and dilapidated
mountain road (A4) between Haputale
and Wellawaya a lovely waterfall makes
its way through tropical vegetation
167  A women is doing laundry at a
mountain creek situated between
Beragala and Wellawaya
168  Emil enjoys the view of the
Diyaluma waterfall, which with a height
of 561ft. is the third-highest waterfall in
Sri Lanka (according to other information
it’s 722ft., hence the second-highest).
It’s located 8 miles West of Wellawaya
After five days it is time to leave. Time is slowly getting tight. Only ten days are left until our visa expires and still we do not know which will be our next destination. Bhutan which we wanted to combine with Indian Ladakh sticks to its daily fee of US$230 per day/person and a compulsory guide. Too much money for such a small country! And there is no “green light” (yet) from Myanmar regarding the car permit, on which we are working since months – or even years. Hence it looks very much that we will say good-bye to “Australasia” (Australia/the Pacific and Asia) after six years, 43’000 miles and 19 new countries and that we shall head towards Africa. Our alternative option is Mauritius that belongs geographically to this continent. But the path for a temporary car entry is also there pretty bumpy. Who says that traveling is always easy!
169  Small roadside temples are common
where drivers pray for a safe journey …..
170  .....a buddhist shrine
[Buddha and Naga (snake)] .....
171  ..... a Hindu shrine
The day when we are returning from Tangalla in the South to Mount Lavinia near Colombo the Vesak Festival is celebrated, remembering Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It is May 17th. On the road, suddenly we get an SMS. It is from the President of Sri Lanka who wishes all cellular phone owners a happy and pensive celebration. Everything with wheels and legs seems to be on the road today. Devotees flock in masses by bicycles, motorbikes, tuktuk and even agricultural tractors to their temples.
172  The serene Lunugamvehera
Reservoir in the Tissamaharama (short-
named „Tissa“) region in the Southeast
173  A lonely fisherman is gliding
his canoe through the glass clear
water of the lake
174  The snow-white dagoba of
Tissamaharama towers
majestically against the blue sky
It is custom that during this festival food and drinks are distributed for free along the road, paid through collections in villages. Long queues always announce such a place. Car drivers not even need to get out. The drink is brought to the car window. We also are flagged down, but do not feel comfortable. It is not in our sense to take away food and drinks from the locals.
175  The „Tissa Wewa“ – the Tissa-
maharama tank – with its knobby trees
standing in the water is an idyllic place …..
176  ..... incredibly beautiful is the mood late
afternoon, when the setting sun transforms the
water lily carpet into a golden ribbon .....
177  ..... and the tree tops get covered
with white egrets and black cormorants
Everywhere the roads are beautifully decorated with Buddhist flags and lovely self made lanterns, and in the darkness countless of lights illuminate buildings like elsewhere at Christmas time. Even tombs have been lovingly adorned for this religious festival. Announced by small groups of musicians we encounter minor processions on their way to a temple, carrying offerings, mostly arrangements of lotus flowers. All are dressed in a snow-white. On the altars in front of the Buddha statues, the flower displays pile up.
178  Three cyclists are biking at sun
set along the shore of the Tissa Tank
179  Swarms of birds fly a lap before
settling down on the treetops for the night
180  Sunset at the Tissa Tank
at Tissamaharama
Towards noon we reach the town of Galle, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, built 1663 by the Dutch. Behind the high walls of the imposing old fortress we still find a piece of medieval Europe with all its charm. We stroll through the narrow quiet alleys lined with homey cafes, cozy little restaurants, boutiques, hotels and buildings in the Dutch colonial-style. Everything looks neat and orderly. The massive fort wall encircles the old historic town and protected it from the 2004 Tsunami. Today, the wall has become a favorite place for a sunset stroll. Unfortunately we have to give it a miss. Since two weeks my sciatic nerve is bothering me in such a way that each step is very painful.
181  At the South coast, there are long
and lonely beaches, like this one near
Hambantota, where a new big airport
and harbor is built, both for international
use. The 2018 Commonwealth Games
will be hosted here. Sri Lanka’s
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
is born in the same district
182  Secluded bay in Goyambokka,
2 miles West of Tangalla in the South,
which lies 28 miles from Hambantota in
the East and 48 miles from Galle in the
West. Towards the West a palm-
fringed coast line is greeting …..
183  ..... towards the East big
waves pound against the rocks
Thus we continue straightaway “home”, back to the Tropic Inn Guesthouse in Mount Lavinia. “Can you stop once more?” I ask Emil for the umpteenth time when we cross Kalutara – not an easy task for him considering the chaotic traffic where tuktuk drivers, motorbikes and car overtake as they like. On the other side of the road, I just spotted the head of a procession with drumming girls dressed in orange, followed by a long line of white costumed women, waving Buddhist flags. A festively decorated truck with a crimson Buddha statue on the loading bridge and a beautifully adorned elephant form the center. At the end are the dancers: A group of cute children and professional performers with sparkling outfits. We watch them until they disappear behind a temple archway stating the year 2600 which means that Buddha found enlightenment under a “Bo” tree in India 2600 years ago.
184  Our bungalow at the “Green Garden
Cabanas & Resorts“ in Goyambokka near
Tangalla on the South coast .....
185  ..... a big Monitor Lizard
(locally Thalagoya) is also living
in our neighborhood
186  ….. a lively Indian Palm Squirrel
(Funambulus) is feeding from the
fruit of a cashew nut tree
Simply overwhelming is the rush to the Gangatilaka Temple in Kalutara itself, its white stupa towering into the blue sky at the South end of the “Kalu River Bridge”. Never ending lines of people move densely packed in the blazing sun towards the temple. Patiently and wiping constantly the sweat from their faces they endure the hardship of being stuck in a hardly moving queue to get to their gods for prayers – an impressive and emotional sight.
187  Palm grove in Goyambokka
near Tangalla at the South coast
188  A black-grey-white colored hairy
caterpillar crawls towards a white blossom
189  A red-backed woodpecker (Dinopium
benghalen) is cracking the bark of a tree
„The whole coast is completely overbuilt“ we heard again and again. No wonder that we are very surprised to see how often the narrow and windy Southern coastal road runs directly along the sea shore. It is amazing how frequently we even can pull out and watch the waves of the Indian Ocean break with spectacular water fountains. Further out to the sea the wind is slashing the waves into white caps.
190  The holy site with the Buddha Statue
of “Devi Nuwara“ and the blue “Maha
Vishnu Devala” Hindu temple is located
at Dondra, 4 miles Southeast of Matara
191  The temple entrance is lined with
stalls offering a rich variety of fruits
192  At temple festivals, everything
with wheels is found on the streets:
Also agricultural tractors are useful
to transport people
It is the last Saturday of our three months stay in Sri Lanka, the 21st of May 2011. At 3.30pm we are on our way to the “Waters Edge”, the site of the meeting of the LandCruiser Club of Sri Lanka where we have been invited to a gathering. “Toyota flags” are swaying under a blue sky when we arrive at the lake. The Japanese manager of Toyota Lanka, Mr. Yoshiaki Kato, who sponsored this event, is also present and greets us cordially. What a surprise! It is long, long ago since a Toyota company was well meaning to us and it really feels good! On our last destinations, which we do not want to specify, we made opposing experiences. Often they did not even have the courtesy to reply when we asked if they could possibly assist us a bit with the difficult entry procedures of our LandCruiser. Are we probably expecting too much?
193  How could this car fall backwards
into the sea? 4x4 action in perfection
194  Coast of the stilt fishers in the
South between Unawatuna and Koggala.
Today, May 17, 2011, during the major
Buddhist festival of “Vesak” (Buddha's
Birthday Celebrations), the “stilts” along
the shore are empty, the more that in
Sri Lanka it is the year 2600 since
Buddha’s enlightenment
195  Enjoying the sea at the
stilt fishers South coast
Alain, the President of the Club, turns out to be a Westerner and a passionate LandCruiser owner since more than 30 years. It was him who “discovered” us in the “Sunday Observer”. This newspaper dedicated a nicely made one-page story of our visit in Sri Lanka. During the afternoon, more and more members with their families show up. Without exception, all of them are dedicated LandCruiser enthusiasts, especially also Sean of the “Outdoorsman”-Workshop, who organized the meeting.
196  View over the roofs of Galle –
a town where the Dutch built at the
beginning of 1663 their extensive
fort. Today Galle belongs to the
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
197  In the narrow alleys of
Galle are homey cafe bars,
cozy restaurants, boutique
shops and hotels
198  The massive wall of the Galle
Fort. It protected the historic old
town from the 2004 Tsunami
Sean himself has already been offering much support during the last days to improve the condition of our almost 30 years old LandCruiser: He sealed the leaking windscreen, replaced the hinge of the hood that broke in the Philippines, as well as the worn out hinges of the two front doors. As a unique gift he gave us a spare steering pump and three most appreciated axle shafts as they are our main problem since the beginning. But also Würth Lanka was generous: We get two new windscreen wipers and a tin of Cavity Wax. Appetizers and beverages are offered, followed by a dinner that, as usual, we give a miss. It is almost 10pm when we say goodbye to our new LandCruiser friends and drive through the still busy streets back to our Tropic Inn.
199  The shiny white Unawatuna
Peace Pagoda (Dagoba) rises from a
palm tree forest. It was donated in
2005 by a Japanese Buddhist
200  West of Galle, the coast towards
the North is dotted with
idyllic little beaches
201  The sea is sparkling like pure
silver – a back light shot at the
South coast near Hikkaduwa
Then, May 25th, 2011, dawns – the day when our LandCruiser has to be containerized. Mid afternoon it is still parked in front of our guesthouse. Slowly we start sweating and getting nervous. Our budget flight of tomorrow to Malaysia and the hotel in Kuala Lumpur is already booked without any chance of a change or of a refund. Besides, our three months stay is running out tomorrow and an extension is very expensive for Swiss and Germans [Rp. 13’000 (US$118) p.p. for a further 3 months]. But also the car’s stay is limited to May 31st. Will the departure drama of the Philippines be repeated? Emil is on the phone on and off. “And, will it work out?” I ask him each time. And each time he answers stony-faced negatively. Despite the repeated assurances of the responsible of the CMA-CGM – the French shipping line – that we can stuff our car today, everything seems to end in smoke. Anger and frustration take over. We anticipate similar “misgivings” like during the entrymoney.
202  May 17, 2011: A group of lovely
costumed drummers is marching through
the main road of Ambalangoda celebrating
the “Vesak” day, remembering Buddha’s
birth, enlightenment and death
203  On “Vesak“ day, devotees flock
in masses over the “Kalu River Bridge”
to the “Gangatilaka Temple” in Kalutara,
27 miles South of Colombo
204  A peanut vendor at the
“Gangatilaka Tempel“ in Kalutara
Then, at 4pm the phone rings once more and this phone call turns the whole situation for the better. We are informed that they are on their way to the guesthouse to fetch us and guide us 25 miles to the “Logiventures Yard” of the shipping line in Welisara where the container is ready. Bewilderment and joy replace our frustration. What produced the last minute 100% U-turn? Mike from the shipping line, who is sitting besides me in our car to show us the direction unveils the secret: “This afternoon we came under extreme pressure”, he declares. “Phone calls from high up in the Hayleys’ conglomerate ordered us to make sure that the vehicle will be stuffed today”.
205  Drumming girls dressed in orange
are leading a procession in Kalutara
on „Vesak“ Day …..
206  ….. the elephant is the most
cherished participant of the procession .....
207  ….. but also the girls, all
dressed in white, are a lovely sight
This can only have been the intervention of Sean and his partner Rushiran of the „Outdoorsman“-workshop, we think and find out that it was indeed the case. Rushiran’s father, an important personality in a high position made THE call that made the ball rolling. Even a customs officer – though a bit grumpy – was present at 8pm to check the chassis and engine numbers and the content of our LandCruiser before the container was closed, sealed and our personal lock put on. As it turned out later in Mauritius the container was opened again and the seal changed. It wasn’t found out why, where and by whom.
208  Also a Buddha statue is carried
through the streets to the temple
209  The huge Buddha at Peraliya is
a memorial along the road near Hikka-
duwa. On the Tsunami day of 2004,
when a train passed here, it was just
swept away and 1'500 people died.
It’s one of the most tragic train
accidents that ever happened
210  A castle-style temple is shining
against a dark stormy sky. It was
build during the Dutch time, lies a bit
North of Balapitiya along the highway
A2 and is named Sri Pushparama Vihara
It is still dark and the capital of Sri Lanka is still sleeping when next morning we are sitting in a taxi to the airport. We are lost in thoughts and recall Sean’s words that reflect our own feelings for this island. When we thanked him and Rushiran for their spontaneous last minute intervention regarding the containerization of our LandCruiser, he literally wrote: „I wanted to ensure you that we Sri Lankans have not only a smile to offer but a heart that goes with it“. Indeed, Sri Lanka has not only become a front runner on our country list, but earned also an exceptional place in our hearts!
211  While our LandCruiser gets the
windscreen sealed, a broken hinge of
the hood, the worn out door hinges and
two axles replaced at the “Outdoorsman
Workshop” – all for free - Emil explains
the “Carnet de Passages en Douane”
to Sean, the manager
212  Our LandCruiser is the “Star”
at the LandCruiser gathering at “Waters
Edge Park” in Colombo on May 21, 2011,
organized by Sean of “Outdoorsman
Workshop” and sponsored by
Toyota Lanka, Mr. Yoshiaki Kato
(sitting, with white trousers)
213  May 25, 2011: Liliana bids
farewell to our LandCruiser at 8pm.
It starts its 22nd container-journey
to a new country (Mauritius) –
the 170th of our worldtrip

More websites from Sri Lanka:

  • Part 1: Colombo - Negombo - Sigiriya - Dambulla - Colombo - Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya (before Kandy)
  • Part 2: Kandy - Anuradhapura - Polonnaruwa - Batticaloa - Arugam Bay - Ella
Articles in newspapers about us in Sri Lanka:
Article"Record breaking cruise", Daily Newspaper "Daily News" - April 22, 2011
Article"Around the world on a steady truck", Weekly Newspaper "Sunday Observer" - April 24, 2011