Sri Lanka Ride

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
0
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Motorcycle: Honda XR 250 Baja at 15 USD per day. Deposit of 100 USD is required.
Distance Covered: ~1500KM
Reference: Lonely Planet Sri Lanka and free local maps
Spendings: 650 USD excluding air tickets and insurance (250 USD for bike rental and petrol, 100 USD for ticketings, 200 USD for lodgings and USD100 for food). 1 USD is worth about 115 Rupees.
Quick Review: Cultural sites, hill country and beautiful beaches

Route
Negombo > Anuradhapura > Trincomalee (Nilaveli) > Sigiriya (Polonnaruwa, Ritigala, Dambulla) > Kandy > Delhouse (Adam's Peak or Sri Pada) > Nuwara Eliya (Horton's Plains) > Haputale > Galle (Unawatuna) > Colombo > Negombo
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Clockwise loop around Sri Lanka, a teardrop-shaped island off the tip of India

Day 01 - SG to Negombo

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Started off my journey from Negombo, a beach town just north of Colombo and near to the airport.

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Shooting nonsense at Hotel Silver Sands while waiting for my dinner

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Rice with curry is more than rice and curry

Day 02 - Negombo to Anuradhapura

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Negombo Beach in the morning

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Negombo Street in the morning

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Got a Honda XR250 Baja from Mr Suranga. 103km to end of road A3.

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Directional signs are usually available before junctions

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I got my first taste of Sri Lankan's monsoon rain.

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Reached Anuradhapure and settled in to Lake View Tourist Guesthouse. Free company for the night with the 900 Rupees room.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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Day 03 - Anuradhapura to Trincomalee

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For some reasons, monkeys like to hang around temples

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Sri Maha Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura. Attended by guardians over 2000 years, it's the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world

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Praying Sri Lankans

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Jetavanarama Dagoba. Anuradhapura was the ancient capital of Sri Lanka.

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Thuparama Dagoba. There are many other cultural sites in Anuradhapura.

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Road to Trincomalee, ex-warzone

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Besides fellow road users, there are many road blocks along the way. But the soldiers usually wave me through.

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Settled at Green Park Beach Hotel. At 3,300 Rupees, it's my most expensive accommodations in Sri Lanka. But the service and food at this hotel are excellent.

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Trincomalee Beach. It might be raining but it did not stop Sri Lankans from having a good time.

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Street snacks. Sometimes they are wrapped in used exercise papers. Some carbon and ink are fine with me. As a Hokkien saying goes, "Dirty eat, dirty big".

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Fried rice from Green Park Beach Hotel.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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Day 04 - Trincomalee to Nilaveli to Sirigiya

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Trincomalee beach in the morning

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Fort Frederick. I dropped my bike when attempting to do a tight u-turn after going the wrong way to a army camp. 2 soldiers helped me lift the bike. The right mirror was broken. It was embarrassing.

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Swami Rock aka Lovers' Leap. This is near the site where demon king Rawana kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita. See, I do remember some Ramayana from my history lessons. Alright, alright, I got it from Lonely Planet's guidebook.

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Sri Lanka soldiers having PT. Have I already mentioned that at every road junction in Trincomalee, there are army sentries?

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Koneswaram Kovil - A Hindu Temple

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All over Sri Lanka, you would see prayer bands tied at temples

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In almost every city and town I have visited, there is always a clock tower with a roundabout. It would serve as a good point of reference if you lose your way.

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Another of my fellow road user

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Road to Nilaveli, reputed to be Sri Lankan's best beach

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About 15km from Trincomalee, Nilaveli is not very easy to find.

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Rough waters and Pigeon Island

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A soldier and a tourist at Nilaveli beach

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This is why we learn figure of 8 at riding school

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On the way to Sigiriya, it rained heavily. My shoes were soaked once again (after Anuradhapura). After this, I rode in bermudas and slippers.

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Sigiriya Flower Inn, the best lodgings I had in Sri Lanka. The family was very friendly and helpful, house was nicely decorated and food was fantastic. When I arrived shivering from the rain, the kind lady gave me a tub of hot water for bathing. When I was stung by a bee/wasp the next day, I was given ointment and concern until I felt well enough to ride to Kandy for treatment.

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Well, it's not called Flower Inn for nothing. Floral aplenty at this guesthouse.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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0
Day 05 - Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa to Ritigala

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Climbing Sigiriya Rock in the morning. I was the first and hope to earn extra merits from the higher beings.

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According to guidebook, Sigiriya is the hardened magma plug of an extinct and eroded volcano. It was said the summit used to be a royal garden and palace. Another theory suggested that it was a Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist monastery.

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Does this looks like the eyes of a housefly?

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A dog, my guide

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View from Sigiriya's summit

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After Sigiriya, I headed for Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa used to be the royal capital of both the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms. Above is Topa Wewa, a water tank.

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You will find many such water tanks throughout Sri Lanka.

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Polonnaruwa royal palace. There are many other dagobas, kovils, viharas and cultural sites in Polonnaruwa.

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After Polonnaruwa, I visited Ritigala. Ritigala is another hard to find place. Above is my guide at Ritigala.

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Urinal stone at Ritigala.

Day 06 - Sigiriya to Dambulla to Kandy

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I was stung by a bee after Ritigala yesterday. I rode carefully to Kandy in hill country, one of the major cities in Sri Lanka, for treatment. But I decided to drop by Dambulla for its famed Royal Rock Temple.

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Reclining Buddha in Royal Rock Temple, reachable after a 100m climb.

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Kandy Lakeside Adventist Hospital. I was given an injection and some tablets for just 650 Rupees.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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Day 07 - Kandy to Dalhousie - Adam's Peak

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A Sri Lankan breakfast - tea, daal, rotti, sambal and string hoppers

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Kandy, once the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom, is home to the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple. It houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic - a tooth of the Buddha.

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Some ceremony at Tooth Relic Temple

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Was riding from Kandy to Dalhousie when the chain came off and a chain link was bent out of shape. I also dropped the bike. Once again, helpful locals came to the rescue. We pushed up the bike and Mr Piyal Susantha Seelarathna gathered some tools from a nearby home and knocked the link back to working position. We fixed the chain back and he guided me to the next town for a mechanic to tighten the chain. I thanked him profusely and exchanged contacts.

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En route to Dalhousie - 7 Virigin Mountains

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River by Delhouse

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Green House. It's full but I managed to get the couch for the night.

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Friendly Tamil family at Green House gives great travel advice. Its garden is filled with plants and flowers.

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Starting point to climb Adam's Peak or Sri Pada. But I am going to climb it at 3am as most pilgrims do.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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Day 08 - Adam's Peak to Nuwara Eliya

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Standing 2243m tall, Sri Pada is well-lit during the pilgrimage season (Dec to May) and there are food stalls and rest points along the path.

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A well-deserved Samosa taste-alike snack halfway through the climb.

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Early climbers getting ready for sunrise on Sri Pada's summit

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Locals and tourists jostling for vantage spot

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Sorry, no glorious sunrise because of the clouds

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But hey, is that a rainbow?

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View from the summit of Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by Buddha on his way to paradise) aka Adam's Peak (place where Adam first set foot on earth) aka Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain, place where butterflies go to die).

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It's cold on the summit. if you need warm clothings, you can find them at Dalhousie.

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After a quick descent which took about 1.5 hrs (ascent took me almost 3 hrs at a leisurely pace), I continued to Nuwara Eliya.

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Scenery along the way to Nuwara Eliya

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Tea plantation worker posing for a photo

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Bus station at Nuwara Eliya. With an elevation of 1889m, Nuwara Eliya is often referred to as "Little England". If England is as cold and wet, I would agree.

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Went to a supermart for some shopping. Water, local cola (tastes good), banana milk for breakfast, devilled cashews (not spicy enough) and more trashbags for waterproofing.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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Day 09 - Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plains to Haptale

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Road to Horton Plains. The last stretch of road to the national park was particularly steep and winding. With the Plateau standing over 2000m high, it's also very cold.

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Map of Horton Plains. The popular 9.5km circuit brings us to Baker's Falls, World's End and Little World's End.

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Hiking across Horton Plains remind me of Plain of Jars Site 3 in Laos..

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until I had to walk through the jungle. The national park is supposed to be teeming with wildlife.

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Baker's Falls

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World's End. It's scarier than it looks.

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A flower living at World's End.

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Little World's End.

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Managed to get back to Nuwara Eliya by 12pm for checkout.

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Road to Haputale - Misty roads through tea plantations

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The compact Tamil town of Haputale stands at 1580m and commands a marvellous view of hilly terrain.

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11km from Haputale is Dambatenne Tea Factory of Sir Thomas Lipton fame. Nearby, there is a 7km climb to Lipton's seat which supposedly rivals the views from World's End. I forgo the climb as I am still aching from Adam's Peak and Horton Plains.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
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0
Day 10 - Haputale to Galle

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The long journey to Galle took me 6 hours on my motorbike.

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Old Galle Gate. Galle Fort is built by the Dutch in the 1600s.

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All Saints' Church Fort - Galle

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Galle Fort and Galle Beach

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Galle Beach

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Monks admiring Galle's sunset. I wonder what the different colours mean.

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Galle Sunset

Day 11 - Galle to Unawatuna to Colombo

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Hotel Weltevreden, with its rooms around a garden courtyard in a Dutch colonial building, is one of my favourite lodgings in Sri Lanka

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Unawatuna, another popular beach in Sri Lanka

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A Sri Lankan breakfast before I headed for Colombo.

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Now this is why we practiced narrow plank in riding school. There were many road blocks outside and within Colombo. At the first checkpoint where I was stopped, my licenses were checked. I was glad that my IDP came in useful. At the next checkpoint where I was stopped, the police said that I was missing a license of the motorcycle. I called Suranga and he informed me that the motorcycle license has indeed expired. I would need to pay a "fine" on the spot. So I discretely paid 1000 Rupees and continued my way, avoiding eye contact with other checkpoints until I reached Colombo. At Colombo YMCA where I intended to spend 2 nights, I discovered that Bistol Street is designated as a high-security zone. This means that the sentries would not allow my motorbike to enter the premises until I fill up a registration form and get it signed by the officer in charge. After much hassle, visiting the nearby army camp and negotiation, I was finally allowed to ride my motorbike in. I checked in to Colombo YMCA and quickly took a tuk-tuk to the national museum.

Day 12 - 13 Colombo to Negombo to Colombo

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It's Poya Day and I visited Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara to check out the celebrations. After that, I continued to Negombo and returned the motorbike.

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As I like to try out different forms of transports, I took a train back to Colombo.

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As always, a friendly local ensured I got onto the right train. After a lazy day at Colombo, I took a bus to the airport for my flight home.
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
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Beautiful pictures and a wonderful trip report! I had no idea Sri Lanka was such a beautiful place!
 

Auke

Ol'Timer
Nov 10, 2003
665
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Wow, brings back many fond memories from the time (1987-1989) I worked there. It is a beautiful country with very friendly people. At that time Tricomalee was of limits so have never been there - looking at your pictures I guess it is time to go back there.
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
0
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Thanks for the comments. :D

Jaffna is now open to tourists. The rain, distance and dengue situation stopped me from visiting.

For folks to like to fly budget like me, Airasia has flights from KL to Colombo.
 

zain

Ol'Timer
Sep 2, 2009
80
0
0
Hi belgarathc
Nice pics and trip report. Hope you can share the contact there regarding the rental of bikes. tq :D
 

Moto-Rex

Moderator
Jan 5, 2008
939
282
63
Very impressive belgarathc.

Your report and great photo's give good insight into riding in a country that not to many people know much about.

I really enjoyed reading this detailed trip report.

Thanks, Moto-Rex
 

dirthonk

Ol'Timer
Jun 21, 2006
408
1
0
great photos and report there.
I was there on a cricket tour in 2000, sadly we didnt get to see the countryside much, your report has showed me what i missed out on!! fantastic and inspiring stuff.
 

jackdaw

Member
Jan 16, 2010
16
0
1
Great pics. Looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka in Feb2011. Renting a Dominator from same placew as you. Thanks
 

zain

Ol'Timer
Sep 2, 2009
80
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Are you gonna follow the same route or you have your own route. Can't wait to see your RR.
 

jackdaw

Member
Jan 16, 2010
16
0
1
Hi again Belgarathc
How much of your deposit did thee hire co. deduct for broken mirror/ any other damage from dropping the bike? What do you estimate your average speed to be when riding in hill country? Haputale to Galle in six hours. Was that riding hard without stopping or were you taking in the sights?
 

belgarathc

Ol'Timer
Oct 23, 2006
48
0
0
jackdaw;264312 wrote: Hi again Belgarathc
How much of your deposit did thee hire co. deduct for broken mirror/ any other damage from dropping the bike? What do you estimate your average speed to be when riding in hill country? Haputale to Galle in six hours. Was that riding hard without stopping or were you taking in the sights?

I can't quite remember the actual cost. But I do remember that the deduction was a little expensive but still okay. No charges for other damages. The bike shop also refunded the "fine" I paid to the traffic police.

You would have to look at my GPS tracks for the actual speed but I would estimate around 45km/h.

I took very few stops between Haputale to Galle. You can say that I was riding hard.