Sri Lanka: a welcome break between long sailing passages
After a week of sailing we arrive in Galle, in the south of Sri Lanka. Already for centuries this port is a popular destination for sailing vessels all over the world; the natural bay is very calm and sheltered.
TExT Mallika and ImageS Deep. Latest update: 19 January 2019.
The first dutch
Obviously we are not the first Dutch people arriving here: the first thing we see while entering the bay is a giant fort and a typically Dutch lighthouse to protect the little, beautiful old town behind it. After chasing the Portuguese away in 1640, the Dutch people started building this town and reinforced the fort immensely, adding a strong city wall.
Tropical paradise, lovely inhabitants
In the first place we thought to skip Sri Lanka and to go to Cochin in India, because of the high costs for an agent to be able to clear into the country. Besides we heard all kind of stories about loads of serious officials with millions of papers to fill out. And, yes, this is true, although the officals are extremely friendly and helpful. Besides, if you have gone through all the paperwork and free to enter the country, you soon forget all these obligations. The water in the harbour is dirty and the smell of rotting fish can be pretty overwhelming, but as soon as you are out of the harbour it is surprisingly clean. The country is beautiful with loads of tropical vegetation. We are happy to be able to spend two weeks here before we will head further towards Greece! We stroll around in the cozy old Dutch town and explore some of Sri Lanka during three days by train.
In 1858 the English started with building the railway on Sri Lanka to connect the capital Colombo with other cities. The railway runs through the most beautiful places of the country. Therefore we choose the train for traveling around. Pretty beaches, little beach houses where the poor people live, dense jungle and deep valleys are passing our eyes. We are on our way to Kandy. Here we walk around the temple of the tooth, where a tooth of Buddha is kept and which should be one of the most sacred places in the world. However, we are more touched by the cave temples of Dambulla, a bit north of Kandy. Here you find giant Buddha’s caved out of rock in spacious caves. The oldest one is built a century before Christ was born. The walls and ceiling are covered with colourful paintings of Buddha. We can strongly feel the devotion and silence in this place. The whole area is protected by high fences to keep the naughty monkeys out of this sacred place.
Buddha's, Bodhi trees
In Sri Lanka 80% of the people are Buddhists. Everywhere Buddha temples have been built mostly around or close to a Boddhi tree. This is the tree under which Buddha came to enlightenment. Most of these temples are busy with praying and meditating devotees. We love to sit in between them to meditate together and to taste the sweet atmosphere of most of these places.
All together we are having a pleasant and relaxing time here on Sri Lanka to prepare ourselves mentally as well as physically for the longest and most exciting sailing trip of our circumnavigation: the crossing from Sri Lanka to Suakin in Sudan which will take us about 4 weeks.