Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rain, rocks and spices

Another early start, this time to visit the ancient rock fortress at Sigiriya. Except for the views (which are great if the weather cooperates), I always found this sight very overrated. I did see a giant squirrel and that was fun.

The spice gardens on the other hand are great fun. A guide shows you how some of our common spices (like pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger etc) grow and are treated. On the way we also stopped at a wholesale vegetable market - a photographers paradise :-)

Now we are in Kandy, a temple city in the centre of the Sri Lanka. It’s been raining more or less all day and the forecasts look bleak for tomorrow as well when we will travel to the tea plantations up in the Highlands.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Elephants & monkeys (and a few Buddhas)

I like Sri Lanka. It is beautiful. People are friendly. Food is good. Prices are low. Surprisingly little changed since I was here last time seven years ago I think it was. Once again peace is in people’s mind and hopes are up for a surge of tourism. At the same time everyone are holding their breath, afraid of post-election violence. But thinks might work out in the end.
Anyway. Today we started really early in Negombo and headed for Pinnawala and the elephant orphanage there. It is as much a tourist operation as an elephant preservation scheme, but whatever it is, it’s lots of fun. Elephants are just so cool!

In the afternoon our bus broke down on the way to the overrated Sigiriya rock fortress. We spent a few hours on the roadside, trying out local fruits and roti, taking photos of monkeys and chatting up a cow. When the bus was up and running again we skipped the rock and went for the Cave temples at Dambulla (lots of Buddhas, a few monks, more monkeys and some beautiful flowers).

All in all a very nice day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Arrived to Sri Lanka

I  fell like a jet lagged zombie after the flight Amsterdam-Dubai-Colombo, but now I have spent my first day in Sri Lanka, at a Jetwing beach hotel just outside Negombo, north of Colombo. Here are a few photos from today, mostly of fishermen (and their families) I met on the beach.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snowy in amsterdam, again

It is snowy here, again. This must be one of the toughest winters in Amsterdam for a very long time. That didn't stop me from biking around in this beautiful city to check out different neighbourhoods. I ended it all with a hot chocolate at one of my favourite bars, de Druif.