Sri Lanka hasn’t surprised us yet. From the air, minutes before we landed on Colombo’s tarmac, we saw a land carpeted in greens. I have never seen anything like it. Colombo, however, doesn’t live up to that promise. To be fair, it is a city. But a city that also didn’t live up to my expectations. I was half expecting it to resemble the jumble of life that is Kathmandu, but it was just too modern. Well, not modern enough to be your typical gleaming metropolis, but not that backwards to be a culture-rich place like Kathmandu. It does have its moments, from its cute trishaws, marvelously hand-painted trucks, to its unique red and white architectural facades. Early the next day, after our Colombo day tour, we pushed for the town of Dambulla, where Sigiriya is, hoping to finally find that magic.
|LOVELY ARCHITECTURE IN COLOMBO|
The original plan was to take a local train from Colombo to Sigiriya. Which really wasn’t possible, lol. What’s possible is to take an almost six-hour train ride from the Colombo Fort to the Palugaswewa train station, then take a local transport, like a bus, if there’s one, or a trishaw, all the way to Sigiriya. Lucky for us, we have our own rented car via JNW Lanka Tours. But our driver was having none of it.
|ONE OF THE FAMOUS MOSQUES IN THE CITY|
We asked him to just drop us off at the Colombo Fort train station early in the morning after picking us up from Clock Inn Colombo, and we would meet with him at Palugaswewa station—where he would pick us up again to finally head to Sigiriya. But he insisted that he’d just drive us, easier that way, he says, since the train would be faster than his car and we would have to wait a bit at Palugaswewa for him. Plus, the view wasn’t really that interesting for the train ride, it’s better if we save our train journey for Ella, which is fantastic, he added. Well, okay then.
|THE DRIVE FROM COLOMBO TO SIGIRIYA|
And so we zipped our way out of Colombo, passing through small towns with names rolling off the tongue like Weweliniya, Nabuluwa, Warakapola, Kurunegala, and highways with lush growth of towering old trees on both sides. This is the Sri Lanka that was on my mind.
|TRISHAWS AND CARS ON THE ROAD|
What was supposed to be three hours of driving turned into five due to some traffic jams on a few areas. Quite surprising, since we were quite deep within Sri Lanka then. We finally stopped a bit for lunch at the center of Dambulla. From the highway, we could already see the mountain rock that holds the Dambulla Cave Temple, one of the places we would be visiting tomorrow.
|RICE & CURRY, THE TYPICAL SRI LANKAN LUNCH MEAL|
Rice and curry is the typical lunch for Sri Lankans. It is somewhat what you’d expect it to be, but not quite. There is rice, a huge steaming bowl of it. And there is curry, or more appropriately, there are curries. You get to pick your curry dish of choice, most of the time, chicken or fish, and then your table is set with an odd assortment of side dishes—green beans, dhal or spiced lentils, papadums crisps, spicy sambals, and, more curries in the form of veggies. And all of these, except for your chosen meat, is refilled every time you finish it, free of charge. Our meal for three, which felt more like for six, only costs us LKR 900.00, which is just around PHP300.00. Not bad, eh?
|WE VISITED A TEXTILE STORE|
Totally full, we sped on our way, dropping for a minute at a liquor store to buy a few cans of beer. Alcohol in Sri Lanka, by the way, is quite hard to purchase. They don’t have it on convenience stores or even big groceries. You have to get it on liquor stores and liquor stores only. So we stashed a few with us, K, our driver laughing out loud as he asked us if we were that thirsty.
|AND WE ALSO DROPPED BY A PRODUCE MARKET|
Along the lonely road to Sigiriya, we dropped by a produce market, our driver remembering a question I asked him regarding markets in Sri Lanka, and a small clothing store selling traditional Sri Lankan dresses. Visitors are even allowed to sport them on and have their photos taken. C promptly dropped her things and got into one, lol.
|THE GRAND REGENT HOLIDAY RESORT & SPA, OUR HOME FOR A COUPLE OF NIGHTS IN SIGIRIYA|
And finally, after more than seven hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Sigiriya. We struggled for a bit, looking for a cheap accommodation in the area, but in the end, gave way to our driver’s suggestion. An out of the way cottage resort in the middle of nowhere, The Grand Regent Holiday Resort and Spa [CHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY]. Which, wasn’t really too grand, in my opinion, but was easy enough on the budget. It would do. Tonight we drink, tomorrow, we explore!
Colombo to Sigiriya via JNW Lanka Tours
Address: JNW Building, 67 Maligakanda Road,
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Contact Number: (0094) 777-39683
Book a Tour: Click Here