Hikkaduwa

20130502-194446.jpg

Our final full day in Sri Lanka was a little more laid back. We were up early and made the hour trek to Galle.
Galle is a gorgeous little port town with an amalgamation of cultural influences. It was used by the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the English during its history, and has a gorgeous Dutch fort right next to the shore line. We spent the morning walking around the fort’s ramparts, wandering the quaint and narrow streets inside the fort’s walls and watching the locals swim in the waves. This is also an amazing spot to watch the fishermen catch fish by their traditional stilt fishing. The men sit on large stilt-like wooden poles and lean over with a small fishing line to grab their daily catch.
When we’d finished exploring the fort, we made our last leg of the day to Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is another touristy stretch of beach that screams “paradise”. Much like Mirissa, hikkaduwa has a string of bars and restaurants right along it’s palm-fringed, white sand beaches. This is where people get stuck for weeks, meeting other tourists and partying it up until the sun rises. We arrived on a Sunday, so the vibe was a little more relaxed.
“Can you imagine staying here for a week?” Said Kelsi while we were sitting having a beer on the patio “you would meet such a great crew of people. I wish we had three weeks to stay in Sri Lanka instead of 6 days.”
“Me too” I agreed.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have that long, so we just made the most of what we could in a single afternoon. We walked up and down the endless stretch of beach, checking out the array of guesthouses and resorts along the coast. We sat down on some shaded chairs to have a relaxing nap and was harassed by a man to buy his pineapples for the next hour. Eventually we meandered our way to dinner and out for a couple of beers.
The bar we ended up at was pretty full for a Sunday night. We met a lovely British man who had been living in Sri Lanka for 9 years. He had a tonne of recommendations for nightlife places in Hikkaduwa, but by 11:00 we realized how burnt out we were from the past week.
We had a seven AM wake up time and decided to head to bed, our six day whirlwind tour of Sri Lanka finally over. We’d seen a lot of the country in such a short time. From Negombo beach to the ruins of Anuradhapura, the abandoned palace of Sigiriya to the temples of Kandy. We explored the tea plantations in the central highlands, managed to relax on pristine beaches, climb the Dutch fort ramparts in Galle and eat seafood in paradise. Not a bad trip!
The next morning we had a stop in Colombo then a flight back to India. Sri Lanka, I can’t wait to visit you again!

20130502-194424.jpg

20130502-194512.jpg

20130502-194546.jpg

20130502-194606.jpg

Advertisements

Jodhpur

20130403-193949.jpg

On our way to Jodhpur we demanded that we stop back in Jaisalmer to see the fort.
“No, no, is much nicer fort in Jodhpur.” Explained Raju.
No! We were exhausted of being told what and where we were going to see things. WE really wanted to see the fort. He said he would, but only because he liked us. Reminding us that he wouldn’t have done it for some other tourists… So much for “you choose the places you want to see!”
In the end, I’m so glad we made the stop. The Jaisalmer fort is bustling with life! Shop merchants and locals and guesthouses: the place was full of tourists and temples and most of all, history. Can you imagine living in this fort so many years ago? Before the city was built up around it? Before the smog rolled in and you could see out forever across the distance? Wow. The place was incredible. We walked the streets for a little while, took some photos of a view point and then headed back to the car. We had only one night in Jodhpur and we weren’t going to miss it.
Our hotel in Jodhpur was incredible, just like all the the others had been; however, I think this was my favourite. It had a swimming pool, very nice rooms, outdoor courtyards and a huge rooftop patio with an outstanding view of the Jodhpur fort.
The Jodhpur fort may have actually been more impressive to look at than the Jaisalmer one, and from right underneath it, the walls looks imposing and impenetrable.
For the afternoon we checked out the markets. Jodhpur is known for its delicious spices, so we spent some time smelling all the different curries and teas that they had to offer. It was hard not to buy everything in the shop! But we did manage to get a few small things to carry with us for the next month and a half (our bags are becoming so full we will soon fall over with the weight of them!). For the next hour or so, we wandered the streets, with Raju as our unnecessary body guard of course, and checked out the markets. The center of the market has a beautiful clock tower right in the middle. Below it is a chaos of motorbikes, horse drawn carriages and a herd of cows, all trying to co-exist with one another. Good luck!
Eventually, we strolled back to the hotel for dinner on the rooftop. Our hotel restaurant just happened to be the number one recommended restaurant in the Lonely Planet guide, so we didn’t have to go very far for a delicious meal.
In the morning we checked out the fort. Unlike the living Jaisalmer fort, the Jodhpur fort, named Mehrangarh, no longer has any permanent residents. The fort does, however, have some outstanding views from its outer ramparts and a museum that snakes it’s way through the inner castle. Once you start in the museum though, there’s no getting out! You have to move through the crowds of people, up stairways and down passages until the end of the tour. We didn’t realize this until it was too late. An hour later we escaped through the exit, exhausted from seeing throne rooms and decorated hallways!
When we finally found Raju back in the parking lot, we drove off to a nearby palace. We opted not to go inside, but had some spectacular views of the palace behind the lake. It didn’t even look real standing there! Finally, we carried on to our next stopover: Ranakpur.

20130403-193833.jpg

20130403-193858.jpg

20130403-193926.jpg

20130403-194058.jpg

20130403-194120.jpg

20130403-194151.jpg

20130403-194206.jpg

20130403-194222.jpg

20130403-194244.jpg