So, this was the accompanying title for my travelogue about the mini Sri Lanka adventure I had with 11 others from WKWSCI earlier in August.
Back then I had 3 choices – (a) to do a short internship in Amsterdam at a design studio I chanced upon, (b) go to Vietnam under the NTU Global Discovery Programme, (c) or apply for Pac N’ Go (Haven’t got over that they really named it this) and take a trip to Sri Lanka.
Troubled over how to make a choice, I talked through the pros and cons with many friends during the short window I had to make my decision. Eventually, (a) didn’t fall through though I know it looked the most attractive of the above options, I couldn’t return to Singapore in time for (b), and with pohtecktoes’s encouragement, we both signed up for (c).
This module was pretty mad. Juggling 7 mods this sem stretched me to my physical limits. I took 25AUs in a bid to clear enough so that I would only have to do one more semester of studies. (Planning to take Year 4 Sem 2 to do some freelance work, intern or set up a business.) I tried to justify that I was taking 2 non-examinable mods (Film Fest and this Lanka one), so once the insanity (and boy was it insane) died down, I would have ample time to study for my remaining 5 mods, 2 of which I SU-ed. Sounds pretty okay right? Okay lah. I wouldn’t recommend it and I wouldn’t do it again.
Sooooooo… well, here are some of my favourite shots from the Lanka trip.
Many of you have asked with much curiosity about this country that we know so little about. The 12 of us who went definitely didn’t know what to think of the place ourselves before we went. But my lowdown is this: I will go back. Someday. Hopefully soon.
If I could describe Sri Lanka in one word, it would be this: Raw.
In more words: Raw, untouched, unspoiled, truthful, honest, and naturally beautiful.
There’s just something about how very underdeveloped the whole country is. They’re trying very hard to become well, what every 3rd world country wants to be, and may in time to come lose it’s flavour like much of Singapore has in the name of steely cold progress.
But for now, while you have your usual money grabbing tour merchants (like in Italy) who try to suck you of as much money as they can because you’re a foreigner, the natural beauty of the country is a joy to any traveler who wants an experience down a road that others seldom care to travel. The people aspect, unfortunately, did put most of us off quite a fair bit. But as a seasoned traveler, you just try to wisely worm out of what you can, and focus on enjoying what you came to experience – the untouched and unspoiled Sri Lanka.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you fancy yourself a bit of a wanderer who doesn’t mind roughing it out a little bit, then yes. I would recommend the Sri Lanka experience.
Also, I think more than half of the shots were taken while on a moving vehicle, primary our mini bus. I must warn you of this if you ever decide to go to Sri Lanka. The distances between the places may seem few in kilometres by our standards, but by the standards of Sri Lankan roads, you’re normally going at 40–60km/h MAX. There isn’t much traffic to speak of, so it’s not because there are loads of vehicles, but because of the road conditions and how you share the road [which is a dirt road, not a tar road] with tuk tuks that will worm their way into every space they can fit their vehicle into, cows, dogs, cows, cows, and the ‘public buses’ that travel at 150km/h and honk like crazy when they’re approaching.
So. Photos! (Lots of them in this post!)
Drive by shot.
Occasionally we drive by the railway tracks that feel like they go on forever.
They call this a stupa. It's supposedly the next biggest ancient structure after the pyramids. They keep sacred Buddhist relics inside, and like the pyramids, are meant to be kept sealed in and revered only from external altars.
A rather impoverished looking monk at one of the stupas. His sign read something like 'I don't want food or money. Please do not talk to me. Yes you may take pictures.'
We climbed up and up Aradhana Gala...
View from the highest point of the Aradhana Gala.
Yes this is the cliff some of us sat on and took scary looking pictures on. And yes, it is as far a drop as it looks.
We drove past them.
Many of the common people in Sri Lanka don't own cameras, so they chance upon tourists taking photos of them to give us their address to send them the photos of themselves.
Most of the time we're driving past endless stretches of road, trees, road, trees, road, random houses in the middle of nowhere... then we come upon the various little 'town centres'. And this is what they look like.
There. Are. Dogs. Everywhere. And they all look like variations upon a theme of the above dog. Just in different colors. But they all look the same. One breed only: Dog.
We saw the hornets nest. It was big, scary, black, and swarming. It looked like Legion, if we ever knew what Legion looked like.
View from the top of Sigiriya.
Many small houses line the roads, they pick their own coconuts, you stop by and buy them for about 30 Sri Lankan rupees, which is about 35 Singapore cents (exchange rate is 85 rupees to 1 Singapore dollar). Our guide told us this was considered more pricey than it was previously, and that it used to be 15 rupees some years ago.
Watching a 'traditional' fire-walking. It was passe and insincere, really.
This shot was caught by accident, because there wasn't enough light, but someone else's flash went off at the same time as my shutter so I caught enough light to take this photo.
They are very devout Buddhists. One of the major temples we visited.
Part of the temple. There are paintings lining both sides telling the story of Buddha and how Buddha came to Sri Lanka.
This smiley old man was selling flowers. We were so endeared that we stopped the bus to buy some.
Tea pickers up the hills of Nuwara Eliya.
In the hilly region of Sri Lanka, the temperature actually dips below 20 degrees Celcius. So people up here wear hats and jackets and scarves, which was a bit of an odd transition for us to suddenly see such a big change in attire after a 4 hour drive.
The Sri Lankan landscape is quite beautiful too. Maybe more unkempt than Switzerland, but as we maneuvered the winding roads down the mountainside, it did remind me somewhat of Switzerland, just with messier terrain.
We were driving towards Yala Village for the evening... this was nearing sunset.
Off to hunt leopards at dawn. Red morning sky juxtaposed with the rich red dust of the earth that got EVERYWHERE. In/on my camera, my clothes, my hair, my body, my face. I washed my face thrice and it was still red. You clean your ears, and it's RED. RED RED RED.
Humorous sign at the grand old dame of a hotel. Galle Face Hotel in Colombo is supposed the equivalent of Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Also, it looked like it was almost never refurbished. The lift looked like it stepped right out of that lift scene in Inception. The floorboards creaked. I bathed very quickly because the room was freaky. We were almost hesitant to switch off the lights at night, and so on. But it was definitely very charming in it's old world way. You could tell by the musty magic in the air what a magnificent place it must have been in it's time.
Long exposure shot from the bay by Galle Face hotel. No tripod, just balanced it on another one of those white concrete blocks like the one you see in the picture. The waves were thrashing mightily. Currents were the type no one is allowed to swim in.
Okay. That’s all for now. Now to find another excuse not to study… hey look, it’s about bed time. Goodnight world.