From a night in a tree house to an ancient Buddhist sacred city.

We lose track of time in Jaffna, and three days go by quickly. We could stay longer, but we are eager to see more in the surrounding area before we start our descent back to the South of Sri Lanka.

Back on the road….!

Our destination on the map is Anuradhapura ~ (Now that’s a mouthful.. much like many Sri Lankan names). Anuradhapura was the center of Theravada Buddhism for several centuries.

We are in no hurry to get there. We want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Outskirts of Jaffna

A small market along the road.

Ben is in good company ~ sarong wearing is quite common among men in this region. Other parts of Sri Lanka, such as the South it is mostly worn in the evenings and not during the day.

Piles of smooth caramel “jaggery”. What is jaggery you might ask? Condensed palm sugar.

Sri Lankans definitely have a sweet tooth and enjoy their desserts. Here a variety of different sweets being sold, including tiny rattan containers on the left, filled with jaggery for individual portioning.

A typical rural Jaffna scene. A man, his bicycle and his cow.

A small Hindu temple with beautiful carvings on the outside attracts our attention. This Ganesha rocks.

The red and white stripes outside almost every Hindu temple, small or large. A small opening in the wall creates a Ganesha altar for offerings. Below the opening you can see script in both Tamil and Sinhalese.

For some reason Ganesha has a stationary bright blue car at this temple and Ben of course loves old cars (see our archived posts on the beauties of Cuba!). As luck would have it, color-wise he co-ordinates with the car rather nicely.

Point Pedro, Northern Jaffna 

A girl in her brightly blue modern sari, rides her bicycle past the weathered shop doors and walls.

A deep peach sari and matching parasol brighten up the backdrop of ruins.

The pace is slow ~ not only is it quite hot but it seems everyone either walks or bicycles to their destination.

I heard the laughter of these boys before I saw them on their bikes coming around a corner. Born at the tail end of the war, they reflect the carefree attitude of a new younger generation.

it is not often one sees a totally authentic fishing village in today’s world. But here we get to encounter one. There are old wooden boats painted bright colors with birds swarming above doing their best to get some of the days catch.

Tiny silver, perfectly oval shaped fish lie lifeless on the shore as well as still floating in the waters surrounding the boats. Clearly these unfortunate little ones got caught in the net intended for bigger fish and were simply tossed back into the waters.

It has the look of some Mediterranean village of days gone by.. but, no, it is still Jaffna. Just across the Bay of Bengal, the Polk Strait, is the continent of India ~ a short boat ride away. (As of now, there is no legal way to go by boat from Sri Lanka to India.)

Well used weathered fishermen boats ~ all lined up in a row at Point Pedro harbor.

The languid pace at the fishing port is best captured in a video ~ Take a look…

 

The houses in Point Pedro are perched at the edge of the island of Sri Lanka, and have fantastic positions right on the coast.

A bright fuschia colored sari brightens up the front of the house. People in this area are Christian and celebrate Christmas in a low key way.

We are the only car on the road. We are the only “anything” on the road, save for a few bicycles here and there. The road follows the coast and passes through many tiny communities where fishing is the primary activity for its inhabitants.

And there you have it… We are at the most Northern point of the pearl shaped island. One cannot get further North than this. Which is kind of fun, given that we have travelled from the most Southern point of Sri Lanka where we live, to the most Northern part!

What a beauty sitting on the side of the road! We are both big fans of goats. I (Peta) did a small series of goat paintings inspired by the goats we met in India.

Rather elegantly posed on the side of the road, with the ocean right behind.

Peta’s painting of her favorite goat (met outside a temple in Rajasthan, India.) The goats sitting so gracefully on the side of the road are reminiscent of this particular goat we now look at every morning when we wake up.

Alongside the road, fish in neat rows are laid out to dry. Dried fish is used in making curries and soups.

People dot the jetty which just out into the ocean. A perfect spot to catch the sea breeze.

The black silhouettes cast a dramatic sight on the pier.

We see more churches in this part of Jaffna than Hindu temples. In the photo above this one, you might have noticed the Muslim woman on the right of the photo. An amazing aspect of Sri Lanka is the convergence of Buddhism (predominantly in the South), Hinduism, (predominantly in the North) and a much smaller population of both Muslim and Christian.

An angel watching over our little car and our road trip.

We drive along the coast on a piece of land that becomes increasingly narrow. On one side is the ocean and the other a lagoon.  Shades of green and mauve grasses flank strips of water.

A church here, a Hindu temple there…. the interweaving of religion and cultures.  Love how bold this life size Hindu sculpture is.

From bright crayola colored Hindu temples to a muted creamy colored cow walking alongside the road.

We stop for a typical Sri Lankan lunch ~ dahl (lentils), vegetable coconut curries (aubergine, green beans, potato) crispy papadams, rice, chutney and coconut sambal. Pretty tasty stuff. (Sri Lankans eat rice and curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Most cook and eat at home and indeed that is where the best curries are found! We are both getting addicted to Sri Lankan curry.

Two to a bike… taking a leisurely ride.  Note the super long jet black hair on all three of the girls.

Chundikkulam Sanctuary

We are well outside of Jaffna and entering an area where there is NO one here. There is no development or buildings just sand, sea and sky.

A few shacks made from the fronds of the palm trees, are dotted here and there.  Desolate and beautiful.

We come to a point where the lagoon and the sea meet and the road is a bridge over the two. Just following along per our paper road map, no internet here for google map! We are heading towards the bird sanctuary area. Driving slowly and enjoying the serenity.

All of the sudden the road comes to an abrupt halt! Nowhere to go.. it just STOPS! In the middle of nowhere. The map shows it going through?? So perhaps the map is old or the road was wiped out during the war and not yet repaired? We slowly back up so as not to get stuck in the sand and look for alternate roads we may have missed. Nope, it seems that the map is out of date. Now what? It is around 4.00 in the afternoon and we are hours from anywhere we can sleep for the night. Hmmm …. Then we remember that there was ONE place that said “Lagoon retreat” about an hour back. And so, we head that way, hopeful that we will find somewhere comfy to crash before dark.

 

Surprised yet pleased to see foreigners, we are told that yes, they DO have one room available. But they wonder if we would like it? It is a tree house! All we can see so far is a huge tree with branches that swoop almost to the ground. Apparently there is a room in there….

Ahhh, there it is. WOW! Now we are talking! Can we move here?

A simple staircase winds up the tree to the platform where there is a room with a bed in it, with glass doors on both sides. One side opens up into the branches of the tree, the other has a balcony and a view towards the sea. We are pretty happy with this save, given our predicament. A unique lodging. Nice!!

Balcony off the tree house. What a fabulous surprise and treat. Past the low lying foliage and sand is a stripe of blue sea.

Before dinner we get in some much needed stretching after hours in the car. Staying clear of the lagoon with its alligators.

When you eat curry every day you get hooked and you start to taste the subtleties between the various types. It is always different but invariably delicious with a layering of flavors and unique spices. The only caveat that the Sri Lankan baseline spicy is to us FIERY HOT!!

After a restful night of sleep in our treehouse, we are ready to hit the road again and continue our drive through this marshland area, which has a beauty all of its own.

The light is soft and the colors have a pastel quality to them. We see egrets, herons, HUGE painted storks, flamingoes, ducks and other birds we do not know the names of. (See video below.)

 

Back on the main road via Elephant Pass to Anuradhapura

Once we are back on the main road after our morning driving through the sanctuary and beach area, we are getting hungry and stop at what turns out to be a European Union – funded program to create jobs for women in the area, featuring North Sri Lankan culinary specialties.. Ooh what fun! A mini “food fair” for the lucky drivers that stop here.

Signs are written in Tamil, Sinhalese and English, with a name for each of the dishes. Many are fried, so we just have little tastes of as many as we can. They are delicious! Who ever heard of cowpeas? Or Green Gram?

Banana flower cutlet anyone? This is just one of many different ways that banana flowers are used in Sri Lankan cuisine.

“String hoppers”  are vermicelli like rice noodles used as an alternative to rice, as a base for curries. They are surprisingly light and good at absorbing that coconut curry flavor.

Paratha (a Sri Lankan version of a crepe or pancake), a staple flat bread used to scoop up curries and rice.

And of course…a lentil herb donut, that when had fresh, are absolutely delicious (even though fried) it is definitely one of Sri Lanka’s most popular snack foods.

 Anuradhapura

We are heading towards the seat of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Anuradhapura.

The Anuradhapura kingdom named for it’s capital city was the first established kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka. Founded by King Pandukabhaya in 377 B.C. The kingdom’s authority extended throughout the country.

Buddhism played a strong role in the Anuradhapura period influencing it’s culture, laws and methods of governance. Because the kingdom was largely based on agriculture the construction of irrigation works was a major achievement of the Anuradhapura kingdom ensuring water supply in the dry zone and helping the country grow mostly self sufficient.

After the introduction of Buddhism into Sri Lanka it spread throughout the country. The rulers were expected to be protectors of Buddhism and it became a legitimizing factor of royal authority.

The Anuradhapura kingdom also became a great trading economy. The primary goods exported during that period were gem stones, spices, pearls and elephants. While ceramic ware, silks, perfumes and wines were imported from other countries. Foreign  merchants mainly Arabs often acted as middlemen in this export and importing. The countries position in the Indian ocean and it’s natural bays made it a center of international trade transit.

 

The dramatic red stone Jetavanaramaya ,a significant stupa structure in the sacred world heritage city of Anuradhapura. It is recorded in history as one of the tallest structures in the ancient world and the second tallest non-pyramidal building. Its height is 400 feet.

Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used in the construction. This stupa belongs to a  t compound that covers about 5 hectares and is estimated to have housed 10,000 Buddhist monks.

The grounds are perfect for strolling, shade and serenity.

There are some very large Buddhas in Sri Lanka but so far this is the largest we have seen. Standing alone in front of Buddha and imagining all the history and the continuous past and future use of this site for prayer and community.

 

Puttalam

We try to find a place to stay for the evening… It has been a long day of driving. It rained last night and the some of the side roads leading to hotels are quite muddy. Ben tries to avoid an incoming vehicle and over-corrects. We wind up in a ditch! Oy!

We manage to enlist the help of two very nice safari jeep drivers. They find some rope and pull the car out of the ditch. Problem solved! Off we go…. back to the main road where there is no mud!

We arrive in Puttalam, a small city where we eventually find a room for the night. There are very few hotels in these parts. Turns out, the beds are super comfy and we have a good night’s sleep before our last day on the road.

Puttalam has a bustling food market. Oranges, purples and greens ~ a painter’s palette.

Betel leaves being sold here. (The same ones that people use in Viet Nam and Myanmar). People chew on them as a tobacco like substance. It makes tongues, lips and teeth red. Not huge fans of the spitting  of betel leaf that punctuates the chewing ritual. Splotches of red on the sidewalk.

The betel leaves do make a nice circular arrangement though.

A vegetable vendor and a very old fashioned scale to weigh her produce.

This part of Sri lanka has Hindu Temples, Buddhist temples, churches and mosques. The population where we have lunch seems to be mostly Muslim.

A woman waits patiently outside the mosque.

Ben is always drawn to the architecture of mosques and this one is quite large for a town this size. (Our first date, years back, included a stop at a mosque for a visit.)

Well worn wooden blocks keep the newspapers from flying away. And they have English language newspapers!  Ben = happy!

The saffron robed monk, a fairly common sight in the South, heralds our arrival into the part of the country where the Buddhist population outnumbers any other.

One of the things we both enjoy about Sri Lanka is the variety of Buddha sculptures along roads. From very large to tiny ones, they are omnipresent. The road is now parallel to the ocean as we make our way back towards Negombo and Colombo.

This beautiful roadside Buddha secures a safe journey for travelers. It has a particularly beautiful setting and especially so at the end of the day as the sun and light soften.

This road trip ends in a hellish drive through Colombo evening traffic.  Ben has driven in Paris, in Tokyo, in Managua, Nicaragua ~ so he can drive in Colombo. But finding our way through Colombo, without a map, in total gridlock… this is definitely not the highlight of the trip.

We stop for the night in Colombo as Ben has some work things to take care of.  And then, one final 2 hours  back “home”, to Dalawella!

A memorable road trip in Sri Lanka ~ looking forward to more…….

 

For the earlier blog posts on this road trip to Jaffna:

Going up to Jaffna:

Road Trip to Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Then Jaffna:

Jaffna, at last!

 

 

67 thoughts on “From a night in a tree house to an ancient Buddhist sacred city.

  1. Sue Slaght

    Wow what a tour you have taken us on. I was intrigued with the authentic fishing village. Loved the video too. I suppose the birds will clean up all of the poor little fish tossed away? Will the fishermen then sell their catches in the local markets?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sue, the fishing village was definitely a highlight of this trip. It was so strange to see little specks of shining silver floating in the water. At first I had no idea what they were, until we got closer. Hopefully at least they will serve to feed the birds. I wondered why they didn’t keep them to use as bait, but perhaps that is a different kind of fishing.

      The fishermen both sell their catches to the market in Jaffna, and as well, goes to other areas in Sri Lanka. They also dry the fish in the sun to use in many different local cuisines. Dry fish is a key component in making savory curries.

      Peta

  2. Joanne Sisco

    Thanks for taking us on this journey with you. It’s been a bit of culture shock even while sitting in my own home.
    The treehouse would have been a highlight for me. What an unexpected bonus to find on the road 🙂

  3. Anabel Marsh

    I know my mind should be on higher things but I found it hard to concentrate once I found the food pictures there!* However, I also liked the contrast between pictures of nothing but beach and the very busy city shots. Also the goat and your fine goat painting. Oh, and the amazing tree house too – I think I’ve covered practically everything actually.

    *Thank goodness it’s nearly dinner time here. Not having curry tonight though 🙁

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anabel, in our minds, food is pretty up there on the hierarchy of travel finds. One of the amazing things about Sri Lanka is how you can be in a busy city one hour and in the middle of nature, the next. Or for that matter in mountainside tea plantations in the morning and at the beach in the afternoon.

      Thank you for the compliment on my goat painting. It is definitely one of my favorites and has travelled with us from Chicago to Nicaragua, to Chicago and now to Sri Lanka. It is 5 ft by 5 ft so the painting is life size! These goats not only have so much character but are very large, much larger than one would expect!

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Jaggery is pretty much everywhere here. Any market has at least one or more stalls selling it in many different formats. It tastes like a toasted dark caramel and is used in desserts and to sweeten coffee, tea and drinks. Interesting that it was mentioned in so many books. Sri Lankans definitely have a sweet tooth and favor desserts.

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Great! Look forward to seeing you here ~ although not sure Jaffna is where we would go with you!! Taking reservations. Would be very fun if you come here!!! (July is already taken!)
      xoxo
      P

  4. lexklein

    Oh my, what a feast you have here! At the first glimpse of that old blue car, I thought “Cuba” and straightaway, the caption mentioned Cuba! I loved all the fishing boat photos, and the goats, and … the treehouse! What a score – from nothing came the sweetest overnight spot imaginable. What a great drive this was; I’m right with you that the trip is part of the adventure, and this one was a beauty.

    (I saw that in a previous post Alison mentioned your sideways photos. I use a Mac and your portrait-orientation photos have always been sideways for me. 🙁 )

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Lex for your comprehensive comments. Love that you call this trip a “feast”! Thing is… we are never full! 🙂 The more we taste, the more we want to taste.

      It is so bizarre about the photos being sideways as I do have a few people who check posts for me as they publish and they gave me a thumbs up!! Neither of us are very computer literate but even our computer person is befuddled on this one! So.. if any of you readers out there have any suggestions of how to fix this snag, we would greatly appreciate it.

      Taking a rental car really was the key to the variety of experiences we had in this one week road trip. Usually we travel by bus or car or tuk tuk…

      Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Johnny. Ha ha, actually we had NO choice. It was late in the afternoon and we were in the middle of nowhere. When the road dead ended I said to Ben, “looks like we might have to sleep in the car tonight”! And we ended the day with a magical spot.

      P

  5. Gabriel Burkhardt

    I’ve just found you and am a bit stunned.

    Such gorgeous rural settings, and you’ve obviously pierced through the filmy haze that separates tourist from explorer. Very jealous.

    How do you navigate the language barriers?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Gabriel, welcome to Green Global Trek!

      Ben and I make terrible tourists. We never do the stuff tourists are supposed to do. For example, we ditched going to the Taj Mahal in India and opted for 3 days at a nearby bird park instead. Taking a page from “slow food” as opposed to fast food, we are “slow travelers” ~ not much planning ahead of time. More on the ground spontaneity.

      language has never really been a huge barrier for either of us. Of course, some countries are easier than others to navigate when you do not speak the language. However, studies show that communication is actually 70% non verbal. We are pretty good at “charades”. The ultimate case of this for us, was when we lived on an organic farm in Hoi An, Viet Nam, with a farming family. They spoke not a word of English and we had zero Vietnamese. And, we got along just fine and had a great time. Three years later we still visit them when we go back to Viet Nam.

      Thanks for your comments. Hope you check out the archives for some of our other adventures in different countries.

      Peta

  6. J.D. Riso

    That is an epic road trip! That dead end in the middle of nowhere would have freaked me out. Fascinating to see the change in culture/religion from North to South. How funny to see paper Santas hanging up. Do you feel as if you’re getting settled in your new “home”?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      The dead end definitely took us by surprise and we had a moment of “Oh shit! What now?” Primarily because it was late in the afternoon and we knew it would be tough to find anywhere to sleep and especially so once it was dark.

      Seeing the shift from primarily Buddhist to primarily Hindu was fascinating because there were tangible signs all along the road ~ The Buddhist temples of the South became less and less and gave way to Hindu temples, mosques and churches.

      Unusual to see a woman in a sari in conjunction with a Christmas decoration.

      We are definitely feeling settled here. Taking the road trip and then returning to our home in the South for the first time, gave us a feeling of coming home. And the fact that we were pleased to get back was a sure sign of settling in. Thanks for asking Julie!

      Peta

  7. My Inner Chick

    AMAZING.
    Every time I click into your universe, I am transformed, mesmerized, energized.
    jaggery looks SO GOOD. Is it?
    Oh, and I feel sorry for those poor lifeless, silver fish. 🙁
    Peta, you are so beautiful.
    Thank you for making this world a bit better.
    By god, we need to be better.
    Love and appreciation from Minneosta.
    Love the mules, goats, birds, cattle…. x

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Kim, thanks for your enthusiasm and lovely comments! It is so nice to know that our posts have that impact on you. That definitely makes me feel happy.

      Jaggery is very good as a sweetener, it is almost the taste of maple syrup but in hard form .Of course, in tea or coffee it melts and is very yummy. Burnt toffee aftertaste.

      Thanks for the love and appreciation. Animal lovers have a special place in our universe.

      Peta

  8. Boyd

    Another fantastic adventure from the Indiana Jones couple! You must be in the top ten of people who have visited the most unique places/countries on this planet.

    Love your colorful descriptions of places, people and food. I can almost taste the wonderful variety of foods you are enjoying.

    Your pictures are stunning and I really get a good sense of your travels as if I were there with you. I enjoyed the close up of you two as you look great, healthy and happy!!

    Do you know how long you plan on staying in this region??

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Boyd!! Great to have you back as a reader and commenting on the blog! We have to catch up soon in email….

      Thanks so much for all the compliments. It is so nice to read you. This nomadic life suits us both well as you know how passionate we both are about travel and different cultures and ethnicities.

      As you remember from our Nicaragua days, we came with an intent to be in Nicaragua about one year and stayed six years! So who knows… Ben’s business makes Sri Lanka an obvious base. In terms of regional travel we have plenty to explore still! So… when are you coming to visit!!

      P & B

  9. jet eliot

    I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to the north side of the island, Peta, and appreciate your sharing of the road trip adventure. The food, markets, Buddha sculptures and religious shrines, local people, towns and sights, tree house and beach scenes. I especially enjoyed the fishing boats and village (though the fish casualties from netting is unfortunate).

    Both videos were superb.

    Fantastic to see the Siberian cranes, a critically endangered species. Thanks so much.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Jet for the compliments. So glad you enjoyed the videos so much. We love taking those and have a few of them from different countries, posted on YOUTUBE under Green Global Trek. PHotographs cannot capture sounds and movement and pace, the way videos do.

      The Siberian cranes were incredible. They are so huge and so graceful for their size. We were thrilled to see them again, especially being so close by to them. The first time we saw them was in Bharatpur, a large and beautiful bird sanctuary in India and were awed then too.

      Peta

  10. Caroline Helbig

    What gorgeous scenery and you guys blend in so beautifully! I love the treehouse you stayed at (perhaps a fortuitous thing that the map was out of date). Interesting your comment about the red and white stripes outside Hindu temples. We were amazed by the red and white stripes in the grand mosque in Cordoba (though have not seen this distinct colour pattern in other mosques).

    Your photos are wonderful. I really like the “painter’s palette” of veggies; it is striking.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Caroline for your compliments on the photographs.

      Definitely fortuitous that the paper map was obsolete. As I write the word “serendipity” I am reminded that Sri Lanka itself before being called Ceylon was called “Serendip”. This was the name given it by the Persians for this island. The first story in English about Serendip is found in an English version of an Italian story written in 1557 called “The 3 Princes of Serendip” ~ itself a translation of a Persian fairy tale written in 1300. It is a recollection of the part of a fairy tale in which 3 princes “by accident” discern the nature of a lost camel. My point being that things do happen in serendipitous ways on this magical island.

      As for the “painters palette” of veggies, I know it is wise to accumulate good images that at some point in the near or far future will make their way into Peta’s paintings.

      Ben

  11. Liesbet

    Your photos are beautiful and atmospheric, Peta. What a (colorful) adventure! Some of them show sideways and upside down in my Firefox browser, just FYI. Those veggies are indeed, so colorful. Have you tried the jaggery yet? I bet it is nice to be back home again as well! 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Liesbet.

      Okay we obviously have a photograph orientation issue/problem associated with browsers and will be finding someone to migrate away from this blog theme which is causing the problems. Thanks for letting us know.

      Ben uses jaggery in his coffee. It has a deep caramel kind of flavor.

      Definitely nice to be home. Made us really appreciate our hot water and super comfy bed!
      Peta

  12. Dahlia

    Wow what an awesome trip with some great visuals – I feel as if I have just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka 🙂 Thanks a lot – it was a fun ride. Regarding the sideways photos, I have noticed that this usually happens if I click on “insert” photo before it has finished loading in the photo gallery. Perhaps you could check that out? But no matter – the photos look great sideways too and gives us an opportunity to exercise the neck muscles 😉

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Dahlia thanks for the lovely feedback. So glad you enjoyed being on our adventure with us 🙂
      We are looking into the problem with the photographs showing up sideways and upside down. Sigh. Big sigh.
      Peta

  13. Peggy Bright

    Wow, what a great trip. We have wonderful memories of our times in Sri Lanka, but back in the late 1980s, it was impossible to travel north. Thanks so much for the personalised tour.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Peggy. How amazing you were here in the 80’s! It would no doubt be interesting to note the changes and those things that are unchanged. There were periods of ceasefire when it was possible, but yes, for the most part the North was off limits until the civil war ended ~ a mere 7 years ago.

      Did you get to see the elephants while you were here? Now I want to go and see them in India as well, thanks to you!

      Peta

  14. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    I feel like I was along for the road trip as I went through your amazing photos and I loved the anticipation of discovering what was around each bend of the road. The tree house would have been a real highlight for me but it looks like there were many high points during your journey. And like all amazing trips, it’s good to find your way back home once again… Anita

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Anita. So glad you enjoyed our road trip and photos. We really enjoy getting off the beaten track and discovering places in a very spontaneous way. The highlights are often unexpected things like the tree house stay, yet ….seeing people going about their day on their bikes, in a languid way, or laying their fish out to dry in the sun, and watching graceful birds in their natural habitat, are the best kind of moments I enjoy and savour.

      Peta

  15. Frank

    Interesting road trip and I think the leisureness swept over me reading it…well, except maybe your description of driving through Colombo. I find it interesting that there is no legal way of getting between Sri Lanka and India by boat. Why is that? What are relations like between the two countries these days?

    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Peta Kaplan

      Frank, thanks for your comments and good questions…

      The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is complex indeed and spans back thousands of years. Today the relationship depends entirely on what Sri Lankan person you would speak with…. SInhalese in the South are yet to move past the reality that India assisted the Tamil Tigers during the brutal 29 year civil war, militarily, economically, by providing a safe space for Tamil fighters who would retreat to Tamil Nadu region of India.

      Understandably, the perspective is quite the opposite in the Tamil North, where India is seen rather as a benefactor, precisely for the same reasons. There are multiple realms of co-operation today, partly stemming from a recognition by the country of India, of their role during the civil war and partly out of a defensive mind set to counter surging Chinese influence. So for instance, where the Chinese government has made enormous strategic investments in Sri Lanka, including currently the hot topic of the current government agreeing to provide a 99 year lease on an enormous sea port at Hambantota, the Indian government is invited to consider a parallel major investment in the Northern port of Trincomalee so as to keep the Chinese in check, so to speak.

      Where the Sri Lankan government needs to find solutions to address housing needs of tens of thousands displaced Tamils in the North, it is an Indian company that is providing a grant in the form of ten thousand prefabricated houses made my an Indian steel conglomerate.

      There are many other irritating issues such as the persistent troll fishing by Indian fisherman in Sri Lankan waters thereby depleting Sri Lanka’s legitimate marine stock and also destroying the coral reef surrounding Sri Lankan in the process. India is also a key actor in pressuring the government of Sri Lanka at the United Nations relative to its prior human rights violations. All these and so many more, comprise to make the India/Sri Lanka relationship tinged with animosity for the majority of Sri Lankans.

      As to the practical issue of ability to sail legally from Jaffna region to India, at the moment there continue to be a fairly constant pipeline of drug trafficking by small boats from India, which regularly enter Sri Lanka, which get nabbed by Sri Lankan navy and coastguard. Still, plans are being drafted and discussed at the government level to somehow connect the Tamil North with the booming economy of Southern India as the Sri Lankan government is well aware that its reconciliation imperative could be facilitated by economic growth and job creation in the North as a result of connectivity with Southern India’s economy.

      Ben

  16. Nomads By Nature

    Thanks for bringing me along with all your photos! What a great road trip adventure! Some made me very homesick and many made my mouth water. The ‘donut’ at the end was a traveling favorite – loved hearing the wadi-wadi-wadi shouted out in the lowest of voices from vendors along the road. When your spice levels get a bit braver, try them with a full dried chili. BIte of one, bite of the other and chew together for an explosion of deliciousness and a subtly burning gumline. So yummy!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks!
      The lentil “donut” is ubiquitous isn’t it? This was the first time we ate it fresh, fresh, fresh! Soooo good! A full dried chili! That is spicy indeed. We both enjoy mild spices haha and so far need to ask for that modification specifically or otherwise our tongues just feel “fried”. Here’s hoping we can get spicier as time goes on…

      Thanks for your comments.
      Peta

  17. Pamela

    I’m astounded by all that you show us here. The scenery, the animals/fish/birds, the statues and the beautiful people. All astounding. You have brought me from my small home office in New England to the amazing land of Sri Lanka. THANK YOU.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank You Pamela for the compliments!

      Very happy to share our photos of our experiences in this beautiful country. You might have missed our earlier adventures in Viet Nam and other countries in Asia…all archived with sunshine, exotic tidbits, for a cold winters day in New England!

      Peta

  18. Sylvia

    A really wonderful photo gallery, Peta. Loved the video and your goat painting. What an adventure you’re having. Thanks for sharing your experiences here. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sylvia for stopping by to read us and commenting.

      I did a small series of goat paintings and monkeys of India, another of bulls in Nicaragua. And a large series (45) of The Stray Dogs of Nicaragua.” Glad you enjoyed my painting.

      Peta

  19. Bespoke Traveler

    Just looking at those palm sugar jaggeries gave me a sugar rush! I am continually mesmerized when visiting this part of the world by the vivid saris, shalwar kameez (lady on the bicycle), and ghagra cholis. An entirely new color palette opens up each time. Thanks for reminding me of this with your explorations through Jaffna and Anuradhapura.

  20. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

    Yes the color palette in the North is extraordinary. We had a funny experience two years ago…after spending a month in Pushkar India where the colors were at their most vibrant during the camel fair, we then travelled to Istanbul, Turkey where the overwhelming color theme in the streets was blavk, grey and denim. It was positively depressing after India!

    Thanks for reading us and for your nice feedback.
    Peta

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks you Kirt for the compliment and glad you are enjoying our posts!

      This trip was particularly interesting and meaningful due to the historical context and as well, the fact that we have wanted to go there, for quite some time now.

      Peta

  21. Jeff Bell

    Your last couple of posts have moved Sri Lanka near the top of the list of places I want to visit! It looks a lot like India of course, but I’m sure it has its own vibe. All that food looks pretty awesome. Do they drink Masala Chai there?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Jeff, the similarities to India are primarily in the North of the country. If you go South, where we live, it is very different. The Sinhalese Buddhist have a unique history, culture, language, food, dress etc. So yes, come on down and visit Sri Lanka and we can meet for a curry or a lentil donut if you prefer?

      Yes you can surely get a Masala Chai here, and tea in general is very popular in Sri Lanka of course as a major tea producer since British colonial days.

      Ben & Peta

  22. Cheryl

    Your photos and writing take me to Sri Lanka. Loved the empty beaches and ginormous stupa. The goats look pretty cute too. 🙂 So much life and you’ve captured it very well.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Cheryl.

      The complex of archaeological structures at Anuradhapura is indeed impressive and one could spend a whole week there and probably not see it all, it is so large. We spent half a day and got just a first taste and exposure to the site of the birth of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This is just one, of 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites here!

      Thanks for the lovely compliments.

      Peta

  23. Stephanae McCoy

    Wow!! There is so much to take in here I almost don’t know where to start. You look very cool and comfortable dressed in white Peta. I’m sure the Sri Lankans women are used to the heat but I can’t wrap my head around being in a hot climate while wearing a sari. It looks like the slow pace would be a welcome departure from our frantic paced technological society. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, pictures, and videos and that treehouse I would give anything to stay there it’s fabulous.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks so much Stephanae, so glad you enjoyed this post so much! Thanks for the compliment on the white.. I had that made in Viet Nam in Hoi An where there is a plethora of tailors. I wanted a mens shirt, yet more fitted.

      The slow pace of the North has its advantages and drawbacks…When we are in a mood to get things done, the slow pace can be a tad frustrating as everything moves so slowly..

      The tree house was fortuitous and I wish we had more nights there….

      Peta

  24. Estelea

    What a tour ! I shouldn’t have read it on an empty stomach though, all this food looks so super yummy. How was the night in the tree house? I remember spending one night in such an accomodation and the “most romantic date” turned into a mercyless fight with mosquitos! 🙂

    It all looks so quiet and slow too. A nice rest from the hustle and bustle from Columbo I guess?
    Off to lunch, I can’t go back to work after reading this post! XXX

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      The night in the tree house was great, thanks Estelea. No issues with mosquitoes, only a beautiful breeze and the sound of the leaves to sleep to. But your comment reminded me of a night we had in Cuba, when we decided to sleep on the beach and as a result got “eaten alive” as we had no tent, nor repellant.

      http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2013/01/beach-bums-for-a-night-in-cayo-guillermo-cuba.html

      Jaffna and the North in general have a slow pace and a more rural feel… as does where we live in the South, but only once you get off the main coastal road, which is rather hectic. Columbo is very much the “big city” with maddening traffic.
      Peta

    2. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Estelea. The night in the tree house was simply great. No mosquitoes, just a nice breeze going through and the sound of the leaves of the tree, in the wind. Your comment did remind me though of a night we had in Cuba.. when we decided spontaneously to sleep on the beach ~ we didn’t have a tent, nor any repellant, and we got eaten alive by mosquitoes….

      http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2013/01/beach-bums-for-a-night-in-cayo-guillermo-cuba.html

      Glad you enjoyed the food photos…
      Peta

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