SRI LANKA: Exploring Adam’s Peak
Written by Lea
It was December 2013, four days before Christmass. I have been in Sri Lanka for about 2 weeks only, all by myself, without Igor. I knew a couple of international interns and my colleges in the office. Colombo city itself wasn’t that excited, honestly, it was a must to explore the country during the weekends.
And so my very first journey out of Colombo was about to begin. I’ve got an invitation to join my flatmates and their friends to the trip to Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada; Sinhalese Samanalakanda – සමනළ කන්ද “butterfly mountain”,Tamil Sivanolipatha Malai – சிவனொளி பாதமலை), one of the most famous holy places in Sri Lanka. I have read about it in the Lonely Planet book and I saw some pictures on the internet, read a couple of reviews.
I knew it’s a big deal to go there, and it’s not that far from Colombo. Nothing was really too far, since Sri Lanka, honestly, is a tiny piece of land. But I had no clue about the transportation service there, which makes every trip by public bus or train so damn complicated and long. But back to the story now. I agreed to join a bunch of young adventurers I hardly know and head for some X-mas excitement…
Our journey started as always, in a randomly hailed tuk-tuk (similar to Chinese rickshaw) on the street. Typically red or blue three-wheeler, one of the cheapest transport in Sri Lanka. You should not pay more than 45LKR per kilometer.)
Australian accountant Andrew, Sri Lankan presenter Drewi, Icelandic couple Linda and Snori, German roommate Lena and myself.. waiting for the right bus at Pettah bus station, the main transportation hub in Colombo. Many travellers may find it messy and not-well-organized, but compare to e.g Morocco’s big cities, the station was still quite ok. Find your destination on the table, follow the number of the platfomr respectively and wait for the bus, but do not expect to leave on time. Really.
Feeling like having a bit bigger food stock for the following 5 hours in the bus, we went to the nearest local getaway. They offer mostly various fruits (such as apples, tangerines, sliced pineapples), popular but fatty shorties and wide range of very cheap sweets. 5 apples cost 100 LKR (rupees) on a bus station, but you can definitely buy cheaper out of the station.
Of course, couldn’t resist and bought a couple of Sri Lankan shorties (quick bites).
Well, these are too fatty and doughy, be aware of your figure! And of course, very spicy. I would say the taste is quite similar even you can find different types and shapes. It depends on the filling, which is mostly some vegetable with different spices and possibly meat or fish. One piece cost from 30-50 LKR.
After small shopping and two hours of waiting on the station for our bus, we finally got into it. It was small AC (air-condition) bus, which makes a huge difference when it comes to traveling around Sri Lanka. Non-AC buses are less fancy with all windows open all the time. It can be fun for a short-distance journey, but believe me, when you should spend inside like 5 or more hours, it can be a real pain. You may suffer from the heat inside or on the contrary, from strong air drafts near the windows.
Outside was about 30 degrees (Celsius) and harsh sunlight. Despite the fact the bus came two hours late, we didn’t move. The bus driver waited until it was full-packed, really. No excuses. We spend another 40 minutes waiting for this to happen. Arm yourself with patience and funky fellows (or your partner).
After 5 hours in the bus, watching Bollywood movies, playing iPad games and watching the beauty of Sri Lankan landscape and tea plantages, we finally arrived to Hatton station. And immediately slipped into local nightlife. The group of local men dressed in white singing songs in Sinhala at midnight. Amazing theater.
We’ve decided not to go for a party or any nightlife adventure, actually, there was no time left since we planned to start our tracking in very early morning, to catch the sunrise at the top of Shri Pada. We were starving, so our first goal was to find a food corner and eat something warm. No more fatty shorties!
It was after midnight but we easily found a local place with to eat. After scamming their poor menu (for great prices), everybody ordered the same dish. Fried noodles is never a bad option in Sri Lanka. Huge amount, low price and decent taste. You can’t missed this, it is served in every hotel. Yeah, “hotel”, in Sri Lanka this term is used for a local bistro.
Dinner was quick. We still had to pack ourselves with some more food for the trip. The store was still opened, we were lucky. With backpacks full of sweets and crackers, we stepped forward to our hostel we found in advance in Lonely Planet. But even you won’t book your room in advance, you will find the place almost for sure. You can find basic accommodation in Hatton, some a bit better and some a bit worse. The prices are quite similar, but you may be/or may not be lucky with the owner of the hostel or the hot water shower in your room.
To be continued…