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Ok.  It’s time to speed through my last bits of Sri Lanka so I can move on to other adventures.  I want to post these last pics so that I remember my adventures.

I loved my walks in Colombo.  They were hot and not always pleasant.  But I always made different discoveries.  Back in December 2011, the Dutch Hospital finally opened.  It’s located in the Colombo Fort area, or Colombo 1, and is part of an effort to make Sri Lanka more tourist friendly.  It was a welcome addition as it expanded the restaurant options in Colombo by about five.  Score!  Long before it opened (maybe a year ago?) I stumbled upon it being refurbished.  It’s such a pleasant place and one not to miss if you are in Colombo.

Outside the Dutch Hospital

Inside the Dutch Hospital, prior to refurbishment. With the World Trade Center in the background. Modern vs. Old. Nice.

With the opening of the Dutch Hospital, Colombo’s Fort area is rapidly gentrifying.  I believe it’s only a matter of time before the area returns to its glory days.

Cargills in the Fort. Soon to be renovated?

Colombo Fort Police Station. With the World Trade Center in the background. Modern vs. New. Again. Cool.

Farther into the Fort, you’ll be in Pettah, the market area, and stumble upon more interesting sites.  Like the street devoted to dried fish.  Smells amazing, lemme tell you.  I believe this area is actually Colombo 13, but I’m not sure.

This is definitely Colombo’s most interesting mosque.

A peep inside of Colombo’s most interesting mosque.

Beautiful Church Doors not too far away from the mosque.

I wish, wish I had gone to Kalpitiya earlier in my time in Sri Lanka.  It is one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka and it’s only a short drive from Colombo.  To be fair, Kalpitiya has only recently become a tourist spot so it was not as well-known when I first arrived.  But I think it’s been discovered now.

My first trip there we stayed at Dolphin Beach, which I would HIGHLY recommend.  How awesome is it to stay in a fancy tent!  We also didn’t wear shoes the entire time we were there (except when the sand was too hot to walk on!) and they have brick oven pizza.  What more could you want?  The oversized swings mean your able to laze about or read or simply relax.  Love.

Kalpitiya Sunset

Kalpitiya is located in Sri Lanka’s Puttalam District, which has a large Muslim population, but also lots of Christians and Hindus.  We drove the 40 km to Kalpitiya town and the number of mosques, Hindu temples, and churches along the way is remarkable.  Surprisingly, almost no Buddhist temples.  The Kalpitiya fort looked so interesting, but it’s used by the Sri Lankan Navy so unfortunately we couldn’t go inside….maybe in a few years?

Family Day at the Beach

Kalpitiya is home to a few wind farms so giant windmills dot the landscape.  Some people think they’re an eyesore, but I find them kind of peaceful and beautiful.

Kalpitiya Windmills

Two big draws of Kalpitiya are dolphins and kite surfing.  We did go dolphin watching, but it just wasn’t our day as we only saw a handful of pods.  As we say in Sri Lanka, what to do?  Kite surfing is typically done on the lagoon and while we didn’t go, it looks fun.

Kite Surfing in Kalpitiya Lagoon

We also stayed at Divyaa Lagoon, which was a bit of an interesting experience thanks to the Sri Lankan mafiaso who were also staying and the fact that our room wasn’t quite finished.  To be fair though, we stopped to see if they had room and told us the room wasn’t finished.  I’m sure it’s quite nice now.  It was fun to have such two contrasting experiences–Kalpitiya beach and Kalpitia lagoon.  We walked around the lagoon to watch the kite surfers and also encountered these beauties.

Shells

I ended up going to Kalpitiya for one more visit and stayed at Bar Reef, part of the Alankuda resorts (the website is very cool).  Bar Reef was also fun, especially because they were able to accommodate a big group of us in one villa, but I did prefer Dolphin Beach.  Fortunately, Dolphin Beach and the Alankuda hotels generally cooperate with each other and even though Dolphin Beach doesn’t have a pool you can often use the pools at Bar Reef, Udekki, or Palagama Beach (which had my favorite pool).

But really, go to Kalpitiya!  It’s beautiful!

Time to wrap up my time in Sri Lanka!  I did a ton of traveling in my last few months.  The new southern highway made it so much easier to go South, which meant that I was there more in my last four months in Sri Lanka than I was during the previous year and a half.  Win!

I became obsessed with passion fruit over the last few months.  This tasty concoction was at the Fortress.  I think it was iced tea, lemonade, and passion fruit juice.  Tasty, but very sweet.

Passionate Fruit Juice at the Fortress

One of my favorite spots–Dondra Lighthouse!

Sri Lankan coast from Dondra Lighthouse

These Buddhist monks at Pigeon Island Temple in Matara were wholly unimpressed that I spoke Sinhala, even after I told them that I learned from a fellow hamuduruwo.

Pigeon Island Temple in Matara

There’s not much left of the Matara Fort, but what is there is well-preserved.

Matara Fort

This mosque is right of off Galle Road.  It’s beautiful.

Matara Mosque

Negombo is one of the closest beaches to Colombo and it’s right by the airport, but I’d never been until recently.  The thought of battling the traffic on airport road to get to Negombo was enough to stop me before, but I’m glad we got the chance to explore.  Negombo is the perfect mini break for one night and it has such a beach town feel with bars and restaurants and tourist shops lining the main drag, Beach Road.  We stayed in a renovated room at Jetwing Sea, which was great.  The food and the service were excellent, both of which can be hit or miss at Sri Lankan hotels.  Two thumbs up!

Afternoon fishing time

Negombo is a predominantly Christian are with lots of impressive churches around town.  But there are also lots of Muslims and Hindus.  Surprisingly, not as many Buddhists.  Wonder why?

Mosque on Beach Road

Catholic or Anglican Church? On Beach Road

The opening of the Colombo-Galle highway has revolutionized a trip down south in Sri Lanka.  But when you’re not pressed for time and can leave Colombo early in the morning, it’s still worth driving south on Galle Road so that you can stop at whatever catches your fancy.  Here’s the conclusion of our family adventure.

Sea turtles near Bentota are definitely worth a stop.  We chose the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project.  If you’re driving too fast you’ll miss it.  They have a few different varieties of turtles and they let you hold the baby ones for a hot second.  Too cute!

The Albino Turtle (I think?)

Near Amabalangoda, home of the famous/infamous Sri Lankan masks, we stumbled upon a Buddhist temple that had previously been a church–either Anglican or Dutch Reform, I believe–and I swear it looked like a Hindu temple, too.  But it’s all Buddhist now.

Just coming from church...errr, or temple.

One of our favorite parts of the trip was watching these guys pull the catch of the day in from the sea.  It’s a HUGE net.  I mean, really big.  And it can apparently take hours to pull the net in from the sea.  Supposedly everyone who helps can take one or two fish home for dinner.  Seems like a fair trade since this is hard work.

The long haul: pulling in the net.

Fresh Catch

The fam and I had a great trip in Sri Lanka.  I’m so happy they were able to visit and see what my life is like here.  And I’m proud of them for not going too crazy with the traffic and the hit or miss food at the hotels.  Chocolate mousse anyone?

My favorite trips in Sri Lanka always involve small discoveries.  Technically, Castlereigh Reservoir and Warleigh Church are well-known sites to see near Hatton, but they’re simple and beautiful.  We were the only people at Warleigh Church the day we visited and even though it was a bit overcast it was still beautiful.  The caretaker and his family promptly ran to open the church for us and tell us some of the history.  It’s a definite must see if you’re in Dickoya.

Warleigh Church in the midst of hills of tea.

Warleigh Church

Beautiful Resting Place

I have so much to catch up on before I leave Sri Lanka in a month or so…tear, sniff.  Let’s see what we can recap in that time.

In December, my family came to visit and we had a great time.  It was fun for them to visit a place like Sri Lanka, and other than the not-always-so-great food and the traffic, they did well going with the flow.  My favorite part of our trip was tea country.

Why Tea is Good for You

My sister, Rohan, and I were lucky enough to stumble upon some tea pickers wrapping up the end of their long day in the tea plantations.  Most of the Indian Origin Tamils in the tea estates are very poor and make little money.  Their working and living conditions are not good.

None of them spoke much Sinhala or English so we became friends with the few words of Tamil I know: Wanakam!  Nandri!  Hello!  Thank you!  They seemed to get a kick out of our interest in them.

Still smiling after a long day in the fields.

Weighing a hard days work to send to the factory.

I think the Hatton area is even more beautiful than Nuwara Eliya and would definitely recommend it.  We stayed at the Mandira Craig Appin Bungalow in Dick Oya, and while the service and food need some work, the bungalow itself is lovely.

Beautiful hills dotted with color

On our same walk we also stumbled upon boys being boys at the Dick Oya Hindu Temple.

Notice the conch shell they were practicing with.

If you come to Sri Lanka, please, please go to tea country.