Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not-So Refreshingly Sri Lanka

And it ain't Sri Lanka's fault, but mine. With an insane close to impossible itinerary of visiting five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a beach (which are by the way hours of train and bus rides apart) in five days, I can understand why Shervin broke down.

He got burnt out. The only human being I know who possesses otherworldy patience broke down for the first time. The constant moving had taken its toll.

Not only that... he was dismayed with being constantly ripped off, the abhoring pricey admission fees, and the uber spicy food which caused us tears (and additional order on drinks) all the time.

But hey, we're already too familiar with all sorts of travel upsets and mishaps so there is really no harm done here. On the flip side this country's got a handful of redeeming factors: Infectious smiles, free New Year leftover cakes, engaging conversations, Couchsurfing hosts-slash-public transport mavens, cream colored shores that stretch as far as the eyes could see, dense jungles and 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites (some of which have been around since 1st century BC!).

These are the fab five sites we were able to step foot on:

Temple of The Tooth, Kandy. I'm not kidding about the name.

The Ancient City, Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka's capital from 4th BC to 11th century AD.

Dambulla Cave Temple, Dambulla. Five caves turned into worship abodes, 1st century BC.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Matale Disctrict. Utilized as a monastery during the 5th century BC.

Galle Fort, Galle. A 17th century colonial fortification.

We ended the trip lazing on the beach to reward our weary selves (although after which we endured yet another exhausting train ride, stood for two hours in a packed cabin).

Unawatuna Beach, voted as one of the top 12 beaches in the world. I wonder when that happened. Sadly suffered under the 2004 tsunami.

So yeah, Sri Lanka's got mind-blowing sites and all... how about the budget? We spent Rs 15,897 or P6,223 each excluding plane tickets (and souvenirs, I bought tons!). A far cry from our P2,590 expense per person in India.

But then it's quite unfair to compare the two because first and foremost, almost all of the sites we visited in India didn't charge admission fees. For Sri Lanka, such fees ate a large chunk of our budget. Second, we hired a few tuk-tuks to shuttle us to and fro the sites instead of taking buses and hiking just so to make our five-day itinerary doable. The damage brought about by admission fees and tuk-tuk rides is Rs 8,030 or P3,143. Half of the entire budget. And lastly the cities we visited, like I mentioned earlier, are hours apart. Two hours, four hours, eight and a half hours... Transferring from one distant place to another made us spend a fair bit on public rides.

I loved Sri Lanka, but Shervin's right. We shouldn't have pushed ourselves up to breaking point. On the way home, at Kuala Lumpur's LCC Terminal, I felt like my body was about to crash (and we waited for almost ten hours for our Manila bound flight). Our experience unfortunately didn't live up to the country's tourism tag line "Refreshingly Sri Lanka". But that's just us. Hope this doesn't happen to you guys as well.

Trip's Nitty Gritty

1. We spent P10,854 each for 4 flights. Manila-KL, KL-Colombo, Colombo-KL, KL-Manila. As usual, the tickets were on sale when we bought them.

2. At the time of our travel, 1 peso is equivalent to .40 Sri Lankan Rupees (symbol: Rs, LKR)

3. Their electric sockets/plugs also have three round prongs, same as India's. 230V.

4. Calling code is +94. Domestic call from landline to mobile phone is only Rs 5 for 1 minute at kiosks. Phone booths require coins or call cards. International call charge varies.

5. Most expensive admission fee we paid, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rs 3,330 or P1,303.

6. Meals in small street canteens Rs 100-200, depends on the cashier's mood. Like, if he or she feels like ripping you off or not. Sorry if I sound too bitter about this. One canteen charged us Rs 900+ for a meal (ONE meal) that's been reheated a hundred times and came with a free diarrhea-causing bacteria.

A liter of bottled water starts at Rs 60, beach front restos sell for Rs 90.

When buying drinks or snacks, look for the MRP (maximum retail price) printed on the bottle or wrapper/label to check if the store is overcharging.

7. Tuk-tuk rides start at Rs 60 but drivers usually charge tourists Rs 100 for short distances. A lot of them agree on a haggled price, just be reasonable!

8. As for bus rides, Rs 15 for short distances (about 4 KM). For intercity ones, Rs 265 for 4 hours in a mini bus or coaster. Sometimes they charge about the same for half the distance because they already got a pre-printed ticket stating such price. Non-aircon big bus charges Rs 77 for two hours but be prepared to stand (be groped/pushed around) the whole time!

9. A two-hour train ride is Rs 180 for 2nd class, Rs 390 for eight and a half hours. Again, be prepared to stand the whole time!

10. Bandaranaike International Airport is 35 KM out of Colombo. Public transport is easy, will expound on how to get there and away on the next article.


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Chyng said...
April 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Dambulla Cave Temple delights my eyes instantly! Galle Fort, parang intramuros. =)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

You are sooo right, Chyng! It reminds me of Intramuros too.

Supertikoy said...
April 24, 2011 at 3:41 PM

parang naramdaman ko ang pagod nyo...waah!!!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Yeah... mega pagod!

adventurousfeet said...
April 24, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Sigiriya Rock Fortress ganda ng view!

Anonymous said...
April 24, 2011 at 8:43 PM

thanks for sharing your experience and tips about traveling to sri lanka. who would have thought that it's as enticing as any asian country?

we use the same socket-plugs here in penang. ang dami ko na ngang naging adaptors! haha.

wonderful captures you have here; make me want to get a ticket of earliest flight to KL to Colombo tomorrow, haha! well, i can do that effortlessly in my dreams tonight though.

happy easter!

bertN said...
April 24, 2011 at 8:48 PM

That was a heck of a trip! You pushed yourselves to the limit...almost. Hindi bale bata pa naman kayo.

tina said...
April 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM

hahaha! grabe, pagoda to the max kayo niyan! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 9:51 PM

CA, maganda talaga yung... rock :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Thanks Doc Gelo! Hope you and your family visit Sri Lanka someday soon. Such an awesome experience, minus our hardcore IT :(

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 10:03 PM

BertN, hihi... we did feel that age is taking its toll!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 24, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Tina, Pagoda Philippines. Lol.

Pinoy Boy Journals said...
April 24, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Gay, anong beach yung nasa huling photo? may mga resort ba diyan? parang sarap puntahan!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Jerik, that's Unawatuna Beach. About 120km (me thinks) south of Colombo. About 2 hours train ride.

Ian said...
April 25, 2011 at 1:22 PM

Ala-India ang places pati mga tao dyan... I Temple of the Tooth, Kandy and the Unawatuna Beach... feast sa eyes. It seems scary trying the public transpo (also in India as well) since there are same situations I saw in Amazing Race episode.

Calvin said...
April 25, 2011 at 6:08 PM

how long did you stay sa beach? parang naisip ko bus or tuktuk kayo to each site only to take photos and spend maybe 10 minutes.

marie said...
April 25, 2011 at 8:25 PM

wow. great pics! makes me wanna check out the place for myself. I usually purchase my travel tickets via Seair. Heres the link for those that may be interested
oh and thanks for the warning about the food! i have a pretty sensitive stomach myself!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 25, 2011 at 8:34 PM

Hi Calvin! We stayed sa beach ng overnight. We arrived there in the afternoon then left almost noon the next day.

We can't just spend 10 minutes for each place. The Ancient City for example requires 2 hours to half a day if you wanna fully explore it. Sigiriya needs the same because you need to climb up the big rock. For Dambulla Cave, you gotta hike up a hill to get to the caves. Plus since they're celebrating New Year, it was more difficult to move around among the human traffic!

So there... that's what killed us :(

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 25, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Ian, we found it more difficult commuting around Sri Lanka than in India. Baka kasi holidays. And I think the Amazing Race India episodes look chaotic kasi nagkakagulo mga tao dahil nakakita ng camera/shooting. When we were there, India and Sri Lanka, we weren't stared at much (and hubby's sorta white).

Ian said...
April 26, 2011 at 9:54 PM

At least you survive, it seems to be a major challenge in both countries...

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 26, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Yeah Ian. It's a tough challenge but we learned so much from it :)

Cedric said...
April 26, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Wow, hardcore! :) Looks like it was a punishing trip indeed!

estan said...
April 27, 2011 at 12:29 AM

interesting place!

doi said...
April 27, 2011 at 1:51 AM

nice photos gay! super like the cave, fortress and beach. will definitely get back to this post when i plan my trip to sri lanka! :-)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 7:27 AM

Cedric, we won't do that to ourselves again. Haha!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 7:32 AM

My favorite is the cave too, Doi :) Amazing ang paintings sa walls and ceilings! Too bad di ko nakuhaan ng maayos. Nahihiya kasi ako magpicture habang nagdadasal sila.. Hihi.

Grace said...
April 27, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Digging the new banner logo. Were you guys really just there for five days? I haven't really thought about visiting Sri Lanka but this is making me think twice. Ang ganda ng temples. Are there less tourists?

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Thanks Grace! Actually, we were there for 5 1/2 days. We spent our last half day commuting from Colombo to the airport. There are still lots of tourists. And most of them are older generations, yung mga nakatour bus :)

sometimes KIM and sometimes MJ said...
April 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

you are so expanding our bucket list, LOL.

Dumboqtpie said...
April 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Wow! I did not know Sri Lanka is a great place to venture.

I just learned today how to link sites, so I will link yours since it is very much informative.

Will plan to include Sri Lanka in my SE backpacking 2011.


Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Keep expanding Kim and MJ :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Thanks Kuya Eddie! Will definitely add your link on my blogroll as well. Regards to Ate Ethel!

Vacation Leave said...
April 27, 2011 at 4:09 PM

one of the places that i've nevered dreamt or dared to visit... until i've read your blog! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Nice to see you again here Ruel! Been reading your Korea posts. Awesome :)

Markyramone said...
April 27, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Very much worth the long trip. Everything was picturesque, the rock formation ROCKS....

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Marky, love that rock! Prettier in real life.

Malditang "Kura"cha said...
April 27, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Agree! Sigiriya rocks talaga! hahaha! Sana makita ko rin siya sa personal. As usual, great pix you have there. Thanks for sharing =)

phingtravels said...
April 27, 2011 at 11:11 PM

wow! superb nice pics and great post :-)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Hope you do too MK (ayan I gave you a nick, hihi). Thanks dear!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 27, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Oh, thanks also Phing!

RON said...
April 28, 2011 at 12:19 AM

sigiriya to galle?

you guys are cuh-razy! hahahaha

more more more pics!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 28, 2011 at 5:17 AM

Ron, Anuradhapura to Galle actually. 8 1/2 hours by train :)

Anonymous said...
April 28, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Sigiriya Rock Fortress is beautiful. Five days is not just enough.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 28, 2011 at 8:04 AM

I reckon three more days with the same itinerary would have been more laid back :)

Trail Running Mistress said...
April 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

harrassed mode kayo ni sherv sa sched talaga! but sri lanka is sooo pretty!

gay, when are we EVER going to travel out of pinas together with chrissy?? i can already imagine the fun we'll have! ;)

The SoleSisters said...
April 28, 2011 at 1:31 PM

I love that little note about the MRP. My boyfriend and I called it the Maximum Ripoff Price in India. But alas, we discovered it late in the trip. But the knowledge comes in handy on the next trip. Very helpful post. Can't wait to visit Sri Lanka as well.

My Lovely Adventures said...
April 28, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Dambulla Cave Temple looks really beautiful. I'm really interested in Sri Lanka. Thank you for sharing this very informative post :-)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 28, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Jules! I am sooo sure we'll have a blast :) Let's plan something pleassse!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 28, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Hey Lois, love your term "Maximum Ripoff Price". Now we get to warn fellow travelers :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 28, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Hi Lovely! Welcome to my cyber space :) Hope you get to visit Sri Lanka someday soon.

Diane said...
May 2, 2011 at 8:40 AM

i am so loving the beach..actually imagining my feet on its sand! very nice! :-)

journeyingjames said...
May 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM

i cant view the photos.. i wonder why. im using firefox and rockmelt. wala talga.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
May 3, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Aww, it can be viewed by others daw James...

The Nomadic Pinoy said...
May 5, 2011 at 8:37 AM

ohh! I could feel your pain. But then, you've got one great story to tell! I'm envious of this journey!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
May 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

And I'm sooo envious of ALL your trips, Dennis!

Redruby said...
May 19, 2011 at 6:45 PM

seems to be a nice country too..thinking of visiting it one your blog...that is the reason why me and my blogs are following u now..ingat sa trips!

Travel Euroasia
Europe Travel Pad
Countryside Trip
Travel Snapshots

Seair said...
June 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM

holy, the picture with the rock formation is exquisite! it looks photoshopped, that is how beautiful it is! it must be nice to travel to so many awesome destinations! i love your blog. please keep up the great work and continue to post marvelous pictures for those of us that can only imagine what these beautiful places look like in person!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
June 20, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Thank you SEAir!

Anonymous said...
August 18, 2011 at 2:58 PM


where did you stay in sigiriya and dambulla particularly pls?
how much ? was it family friendly?


Pinay Travel Junkie said...
August 18, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Hi! We didn't stay overnight in Sigiriya and Dambulla. We only did a day trip to both.

Carmela Ariza said...
May 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

from the 5 tourist spots you visited, please rank them according to your must-see, Or what can be excluded in our tour from the 5?

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