Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Malaysia and Singapore

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Asia, Malaysia, Singapore

Air Asia was gracious enough to transport us back from Colombo to Malaysia, after a quick two and a half hour drive from Unawatuna to the capital of Sri Lanka.  Flight went smoothly, a fellow traveller entertained me for the greater duration of the journey by being disgusted by the service and seating of the world’s best low-cost carrier, what people pay and then expect is sometimes just too great a differential…

Kuala Lumpur was a short visit, as we had just time to jump on a bus/train combo from the LCC terminal to KL Sentral, grab some dinner, and then hop on our overnight train to Singapore.

Train journey was great, we splurged for a 1st class two berth cabin with ensuite at a cost of $80, and it was a super sleep.

Singapore is by far one of the easiest countries in the world to travel, after a simple immigration process, we hopped on a bus from the train station to the airport, and left our bags for the day.  We spent 8 hours in the city, using the MRT train system, super simple and allowed us to grab some last-minute things that we needed for the next part of our adventure in South America.  I think the only thing Mirella saw for the day was a sign like this:

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Back to the airport 9 hours later, a good day in Singapore all round.

Time to hop on our national carrier, an overnight flight to Singapore with 409 other souls on a Qantas 747.

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Galle, Sri Lanka

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Asia, Photos, Sri Lanka

Galle and Unawatuna

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Asia, Sri Lanka

We left Yala NP behind, after having the great fortune of seeing the mighty leopard on both the afternoon and morning safari drives, as well as many other animals as you can see in the Yala gallery.

We headed for our final stop in Sri Lanka, Unawatuna, a small backpacker beach resort on the south-west coast, only 5km from Galle, a World Heritage city.  Hard to believe in just 12 days we have been able to visit 5 World heritage sites, at a pretty easy pace, and the last 5 of those 12 days spent on a world-class beach!

The beach itself was great, a very relaxed vibe, with good food and warm water.

Galle was an excellent place to explore, we spent a day just looking around the old fort, well worth a visit.

DSC00827I will post a final gallery of pictures for Galle, and that wraps up Sri Lanka!

What started as a discussion over a meal in Thailand of what to do for a couple of weeks has turned out great, as we have seen some amazing sights, travelled on some great rail journeys, and eaten lots of rice and curry (which has been delicious).

Next up is a day in Singapore, and then off to the city with the most beautiful harbour in the world, Sydney!

 

Yala National Park Snaps

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Asia, Photos, Sri Lanka

After a coll couple of days in the hill country, we jumped in a car and headed for Tissamahara, a small town in the south-east of Sri Lanka, and a jumping off point for safaris in to Yala National Park.  The park is famous for having one of the highest concentrations of leopards in the world, and Mirella and I were keen to find the big cat!

The drive from Ella was uneventful, a couple of nice sights along the way including a waterfall and a lake.

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After an action packed day in Sigiriya and Dambulla, we pushed on to Nuwara Eliya, a hill station in central Sri Lanka surrounded by tea estates (Ceylon Tea anyone?).

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Being train aficionados, we elected to ride from Kandy to NE in first class, for the very reasonable cost of $10 per person.  Had we roughed it in 2nd class, it would have cost $2 each for a four hour train ride!

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The views from the train were spectacular, as the train slowly gained elevation in to the central highlands of Sri Lanka.  The change of climate was a welcome one, as we had been in high heat and humidity for over a month.  At 1900 metres above sea level, it was cool and perfect for a hike in to Horton Plains National Park, a 90 minute drive from town.

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Horton Plains is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where you do not need to be in a vehicle, and we had a great hike.  We saw monkeys, deer and a couple of waterfalls on a three hour jaunt through the park.  Back to town for dinner (more rice and curry), and a rest.

The next day we were back on the train heading to Ella, another small hill station.  The 1st class train ride was $5 for three hours, insanely cheap for views that were even better than the previous day!

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Upon arrival, a short walk had us at our next hotel, and we dumped the packs and headed up Little Adam’s Peak, an easy hour walk through tea plantations, that led to an awesome view of the surrounding countryside.  Another great couple of days in Sri Lanka, and with the lure of a safari tomorrow (and possibly leopards), all is shaping up well!

Dambulla and Sigiriya

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Asia, Sri Lanka

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It felt like out first day of real sightseeing on the trip!  We had hired a car and driver to take us from Kandy to Dambulla caves and the citadel of Sigiriya.  It was an all day adventure, and Sigiriya would rate for me as one of the great ruins of the world.

After a couple of stops at a Hindu temple and some weird Buddhist cave, we arrived in Dambulla.  The caves are a world heritage listed site, and with good reason.  Five caves high up on a hill (read Sean almost dying whilst climbing hundreds of stairs, whilst Mirella bounded up and took lots of photos) containing many images of Buddha in various poses made for interesting viewing, and plenty of monkeys about to entertain!

We then headed further north to Sigiriya.  The ruins of a great city built high on a rocky outcrop felt like Palenque at the base, and Mattu Pichu at the top!  An incredible place, and I will post a gallery of images that we took, unfortunately they cannot do the place any justice, it was truly incredible!

A long drive back to Kandy completed a great day, feel so lucky to be able to vist places like Sigiriya, the world is a truly amazing place…..

Kandy, Sri Lanka

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Asia, Sri Lanka

Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage City, and inside the city is the Temple of the Tooth, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage location.  It is said that Buddha’s tooth is housed in the temple, although it has been contested that it is the tooth of a buffalo….

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Whatever the origin of the bicuspid in question, the temple is held in high esteem by Buddhists around the world.  Not by any great plan, we had arrived on the full moon, a Buddhist holiday each and every month in Sri Lanka, and the place was flooded with people!

On to Dambulla and Sigiriya tomorrow, two more World Heritage sites, with Sigiriya apparently holding the title of the crown jewel of places to see in Sri Lanka….

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Asia, Sri Lanka

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Chaotic, tuk tuk belching, smiling Sri Lanka.  Our arrival after two days on public transport in SE Asia, and a 3 hour Air Asia flight, concluded with a 100 minute, 37km cab ride.  To say traffic was heavy would be an understatement!  First impressions were a quieter India, with less people, otherwise looking, smelling and feeling pretty much the same….

We enjoyed a couple of nights in Colombo, the city lacking any real must see sights, allowing us to relax and enjoy some amazing Sri Lankan food (how can you go wrong in a country where the national dish is “Rice and Curry”?).  People are incredibly friendly and welcoming, the transport and food is easy and inexpensive, and the next 12 days should reveal some amazing highlights, stay tuned…