Sunday, April 30, 2017

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Sri Lanka - Buses, Trains, And Cars

Sri Lanka is a very hilly island; because of this there isn't really a straight road anywhere outside of the cities. The highway system is being improved all of the time, but that seems to focus on the roads along the coast in and out of Colombo. If you want to venture into the interior roads are OK, but can be a little scary.

The three best ways to get around Sri Lanka are either by train, car, or bus. The trains are a great way to get around; they're fairly inexpensive, fairly clean, and fairly reliable. Some of the train routes are also very beautiful. The buses are very cheap, always overfilled, and some are rather sketchy. The only way I can vouch for the safety of the buses is to say that I rode several and I'm not dead, you may not however be so lucky. The buses often play very loud disco music, and fancier ones are sometimes decorated like disco techs as well. If you're riding a bus or train, and you're not getting on at the first stop, be prepared to stand no matter how long your journey might be.

Cars can vary depending on where you rent them. Drivers often come with the cars and they too can vary depending on where you get them. Hotels and guesthouses will often have driving services they can recommend, but be aware that you'll be paying a great deal for this service. A car and driver can cost hundreds of dollars where a bus and train will cost you less than ten. However if comfort is important to you, than it may be the only alternative.

Later

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Sri Lanka - Galle Fort, A Hit Or Miss

Galle Fort is either a blessing in disguise, or a tourist trap, it all depends on what you want. If you're going to Sri Lanka to experience local culture than Galle may not be for you. If you need a break from the hectic pace of Sri Lanka, than it may be nice stop. Galle Fort is like a slice of Europe in Asia, with tourist shops and restaurants that look more Greek or Italian than Sri Lankan.

Galle Fort was originally built as a Dutch fort. It still has a great deal of the charm left from its past, most notably a giant wall that surrounds it. Many of the shops and hotels are in the original Dutch buildings, and can sometimes be very grand. You will pay for this grandness if you eat or stay in this fort as prices are much higher than you'll find no more than a 20-minute walk outside the walls.

On weekends and evenings you'll also find many Sri Lankans enjoying the local atmosphere, particularly around sunset. At sunset everybody collects at the wall near the sea to watch the sunset, and maybe even jump into the water to cool off. Then some people go home, and others enjoy the European feel of this Dutch fort in Asia.

Later

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Sri Lanka - Tea Plantations Are Worth a Visit

In the central part of the Island of Sri Lanka there are huge mountains. These mountains are the perfect environment to grow tea. While tea isn't native to this area, it is now thriving all over these hill tops. Dotted all over these hilltop tea plantations and processing plants, where the tea goes from green leave to brown dried read to make tea. Almost all of these plantations are open to the public and offer tours.

For the most part the tours are free, and often include some kind of sample cup of tea at the end. The samples are often made by a tea expert, and can turn you into a tea snob instantly. Their expectation is that you'll buy a bag or two at the gift shop on your way out and in many cases this isn't a bad idea. You will find that locals also offer tea for sale at local stands and in some stores, this tea isn't as high quality as the stuff at the factories, it's cheap, but for a reason.

The tours themselves are often short, and there isn't too much in the way of explanation of the tea making process. They also don't often, or ever, offer tours of the actual tea fields. If you want to see a tea field it's fairly simple as they're all around the plantations. Roads will cut right through them, and there are pathways that crisscross around them. Walking on these pathways is generally not a problem, although you don't want to venture too far, and damaging the tea plants is frowned upon.

Later

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Sri Lanka - Horton Plains National Park

If you're looking for a taste of the great outdoors, but you want to manage it on a day trip, and don't really like super difficult trails, Horton Plains is the place for you. Horton Plains is a national park located about an hour outside of Nuwara Eliya. The drive there can be a little steep, and some of the roads aren't in perfect condition. Hotels in Nuware Eliya do offer "tours" of the park, however this could consist of a driver taking you to the entrance and letting you walk the trails on your own. Basically it's nice to get a drive there, but you don't need a guide.

There is a small fee to get into the park, but judging by the good condition of the trails and facilities the money is likely going to the right places. It's a good idea to get to the park as early as possible, as the heat of the day can be pretty serious, and the local wildlife is much more active in the mornings. The local wildlife consists mostly of birds, but there are a few Samba deer around as well. There are some wild cats in the park but tourists rarely spot them.

The big draw of Horton Plains is a spot called "At World's End". It's a giant outlook that looks out over a few other hills and into parts of Sri Lanka. From this spot it seems as though you can see the entire country. This spot is also often the busiest spot as everybody wants to stop and get photos, but if you're patient you can relax and really soak it in. There is also a secondary "At World's End" that's pretty impressive as well.

Later

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017