Monday, March 28, 2011

Luang Prabang.. part two

a lone Buddhist prayer offering, seen by the boulevard along the river

a closer look. these were being sold at the Wats and also by the roadside stalls

random logs of wood

pretty, isn't it

small farm on the slope leading down to the riverbank

Now this Bamboo Bridge has a fee of a whopping 4000kip just to cross it once and come back!

Rickety old thing but leads to a certain kind of paradise..

view from the bridge

walk up the sloping path at the left of the picture and you'll get to a whole new side of luang prabang

beautiful sunny day, perfect for taking a dip...

Lao boy basking in the sun after a swim

A cool reprieve from the sun to retreat into after a huge lunch, garden at Wat Choum Khong

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Luang Prabang.. part one

Luang Prabang, UNESCO World Heritage town, very touristy but at the same time, if you search hard enough and make that extra effort to venture out beyond the main tourist strip, it is very likable! Loved this place and can't wait to return..

A nice room to pamper myself after a long bumpy bus ride

One Wat out of many that i visited that day. A Wat is a Buddhist temple.

A nice quiet morning

Dragon lined stairs leading to a Wat

Corridor of a Wat

So incredibly intricate and pretty!

Nam Ou river

Row, row, row your boat...

It sure was a hot day..

Just chilling.. just like everyone else

the usual scenery

She took one look at my camera and started striking poses for me, i kid you not! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sri Lanka

Kandy Lake
Kandy is a city and I think the reason its so popular among Sri Lankans (apart from the Temple of the Tooth) is the cool weather. I reached Colombo in the morning and after just a few hours the sweltering heat drove me out of Colombo up a train to Kandy. First class tickets on the train are ridiculously difficult to get, but second class was just fine. To be completely honest, I wasn't crazy about Kandy and left the next day to Ella.

Kandyian Dance
Bought tickets at the Queens Hotel opposite the Temple of The Tooth for 500SLR per person. The 1 hour show was at a huge auditorium that was packed with hundreds of people. There were no rules in place stating that no flash photography was allowed so it was rather annoying to try and watch the show with flash going off everywhere. Some very impressive cartwheels were done by the Sri Lankan male performers but personally I felt that it was decent, but not good enough to make me want to go back to watch again.

Fire Eaters doing the closing act of the Kandyian Dance. Later they walked on hot coals.
Note the surprised tourists. The thing is, I grew up watching these acts at the temple in my hometown and to me, they were always acts of devotion, a way to show your faith to your religion and a way to show gratitude when you got what you prayed for. During this performance, it was very obviously highlighted how the performers have to pray first before walking on coals. Even the prayers were such a performance. I didn't quite know how to feel about the whole thing. I'm not a religious person at all, but i felt extremely uncomfortable to watch them sell their religion so blatantly. Maybe i'm overreacting, but why include the whole religious ritual in the performance when it is so obviously a performance?! There is just something wrong with paying to watch someone pray and then tipping them for it if they did it well.

View from the train on the way to Ella
Anyway, train travel is the way to go in Sri Lanka! Its super cheap, not that hard to get a seat, and the seats aren't uncomfortable. Sure, it takes a few extra hours than a bus, but I found it to be much more convenient and who can resist those endless wada's and snacks that were constantly peddled..

More green scenery
The country is actually a lot more beautiful than what my pictures show. Somehow didn't feel like taking pictures during this trip and just drank up all the pretty scenery with my eyes.

Auto rickshaws, a shop selling Marie biscuits, a lorry, railway track, some hills and Sri Lankan people

Stuck my head out of the steam engine train and took this picture.

Ravana Ella falls
From Ella there's a bus that you can take to this falls for only a few rupees. It was vast and beautiful, too bad it was such a rainy day.

Rainy weather makes the water muddy. According to the auto driver, it's the colour of tea

Highway with mountains behind, Ella

Puppy at shop in Ella.
His name is White and the weather was cold that day, hence the blanket. Extremely cute but he tried to chew my shoes off (while they were still on my feet)!

Electricity got cut off so we got an oil lamp
At Ella, I stayed at Ella Gap Tourist Inn. Surprisingly, the price quoted (1500SLR for a double with hot water) was cheaper than what was mentioned in my outdated guidebook. It's an awesome guesthouse, the owner and people working there go out of their way to make you feel at home, room was so clean and comfy and to think of it, of all the places that I stayed at in the country, this was the nicest. The restaurant served awesome food, just like every other restaurant I ate at. Sri Lankan food is amazing stuff. Its the right kind of spicy, the kind that makes you sweat slightly but you can't stop eating coz it just tastes so damn good.

beautiful Mirissa on a slightly cloudy day
Mirissa is so gorgeous, the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen in my life. The picture above was my first picture of the beach. I told myself I'd take more pictures later but i got lazy :D

The beach has got a nice surfing scene going on. The ocean was so rough with really big waves and the beach was a bit crowded but even then I would love to go back, it is that pretty.

A bat
Electric wires seemed to be the place for bats to hang out (hahaha) during the day and maybe night. This one was there the whole day and didn't budge an inch!

Closer look. I wonder how many get electrocuted each year.

Bus stop, where the stray dogs go to sleep each night

Bus stops seemed to be the place animals congregate. From a window of a bus, I once saw a big black buffalo hanging out at this bus stop by the road. It was taking up nearly the entire bus stop and seemed to be enjoying the shade while the local people gathered around it and waited for their bus like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Beach at Negombo. Less touristy than Mirissa but also less pretty.

Boat on the beach

Sunset at Negombo.
Sunset at Mirissa was insanely spectacular and crazily amazing but i got lazy with my camera hence no pictures but it truly was something awesome. If you are visiting Sri Lanka and happen to come across this blog, listen to me and go to Mirissa. Sure, its touristy and more expensive than other places but it is incredibly beautiful and so worth it.