A Travellerspoint blog

Colombo Day 1 - Wedding Sweets & Diyatha Uyana

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It's been awhile since my last travel entry! I haven't finished recounting my Europe Trip in 2014, but I've been having a hectic few months and had to stop for a bit. And I'm back with my adventures in Sri Lanka! Randi, a dear friend of mine from our college days was getting married in end July, so she invited us old classmates to attend her wedding and join her and her hubby in their Sri Lankan honeymoon leg - Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, and Negombo, before they head off to London.

It's been awhile since my last travel entry! I haven't finished recounting my Europe Trip in 2014, but I've been having a hectic few months and had to stop for a bit. And I'm back with my adventures in Sri Lanka! Randi, a dear friend of mine from our college days was getting married in end July, so she invited us old classmates to attend her wedding and join her and her hubby in their Sri Lankan honeymoon leg - Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, and Negombo, before they head off to London.

Journey to Newala

We flew to Colombo two nights before the wedding by Sri Lankan Airlines. I had some misgivings about it at first but it was the only flight with no stopovers and reasonable departure and arrival times. It turned out to be a fairly comfortable flight both ways, was pretty much on time, and the meals were delicious. I would choose Sri Lankan Airlines if I were to visit Sri Lanka again.

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Our in-flight dinner, but it was more like in-flight supper due to the late time. Actually I'd told myself I wouldn't eat so late for health reasons, but my stomach caved in to the aromatic smell of the butter chicken! The meal consisted of feta cheese (I love feta chees!) with veg, Butter chicken with Makhani sauce and Mango Mousse with Raspberry Coulis. I cleaned my plates / bowls. Sinful meal is sinful.

At the airport, the plan was to collect our free tourist simcard from Dialog, one of Sri Lanka's largest mobile networks. We'd already applied for it online and received an email confirmation complete with a Sri Lankan phonenumber which I happily forwarded to everyone whom I thought I'd need to maintain contact with on the trip. Prior to flying off, I also used the number to book a cab via Kangaroo Cabs online to pick us up at the airport. We followed the instructions and went to the immigration counter (weird choice to have the immigration handle tourist sim cards if you ask me). The immigration officer had no idea about a pre-registered sim card but gave me a new package. I took it just in case and headed to the Dialog booth. Turns out that the batch of sim cards containing our pre-registered ones was delayed. On top of that, their system was faulty and they could not top up our sim cards with money. Without a local mobile network, we couldn't book a cab or contact Shini to inform her (there's roaming but it's very costly). The cab that we booked obviously didn't turn up without receiving my sms confirmation. In all fairness, when we finally got our cards charged the next day, the stability of the network is excellent, even in the rural hilly parts of Nuwara Eliya. Lots of places from shopping centres to dilapidated shacks in the middle of nowhere offer top-up services for Dialog, so I'd still recommend their service if in need of a simcard.

We went to the airport taxi booth and received a quote for Nawala - 3000 LKR for a van. They didn't have cars, which would have cost less. We paid at the booth and received a receipt with the cost and our destination Nawala printed on it. Another staff came over and brought us to our van and driver. We took the Airport highway, which incurred 300 LKR toll fees, to be paid when we reach the Toll gate. Sure enough, as Randi had said, the highway is almost identical to Singapore's expressways, right down to the colour scheme of the direction boards!

The ride was smooth enough, but there was a minor communication breakdown - we tried to give the driver directions that Randi had written down for us. We were under the impression that the driver knew how to get to the location, but turns out that he didn't.

Basically, part of the conversation went like that:
Us: This is school lane (our destination) right?
Driver´╝Ü nods.
A little later when we're suspiciously no where near our destination...
Us: Are we still on school lane?
Driver: What school lane?

He drove right pass the lane that led to our host's house. He had to get down to ask around for directions to get back, and we reached Shini's house rather late. On top of that, we had to pay the driver an extra 500 LKR for the extra distance he travelled!

The Next Morning - Wedding Preparations

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On our first morning in Colombo, after a hearty breakfast cooked by Shini, we headed off to Randi's house. The area in the neighbourhood is mostly made up of standalone houses with ample greenery. I love that there is so much nature and visible blue sky.

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View of neighbouring houses from Randi's balcony.

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This talented lady not only planned Randi's wedding but designed and made her traditional wedding blouse!

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The fabric is so beautiful! I love the little golden balls that were painstakingly sewn on.

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Randi was really busy with wedding and honeymoon preparations, so we left her to her packing and spent most of the afternoon helping to pack sweets for the wedding.

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We spent a fruitful afternoon working together with Randi's extended family members to pack the sweets! There were 3 different types of sweet to be wrapped and placed inside 300 handmade bamboo box as door gifts for each guest. This is a very traditional arrangement and rare even in Sri Lanka because most young people these days prefer something more modern and simple.

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Admittedly, when I was told I'd be packing sweets, I wasn't expecting this cake-like thing. This was one of the 3 sweets we packed, and I forgot what it is called, but it sort of matches the description of Kevum, which is a deep-fried sweet Sri Lankan pastry made from rice flour and other ingredients. It is oily and very sweet (I think treacle is one of the ingredients). Those with a sweet tooth would enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don't fancy sweet stuff much!

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Scrumptious home-cooked spread by the gracious hosts. Everyone kept asking me if I could eat spicy food. Actually, I really adore spicy food and there's lots of spicy delicacies in Singapore!

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Almost done, just have to cap the rest!

Riding the Tuk Tuk

Near evening, everyone was still busy with preparations, so our host suggested that we go to The Good Market at Diyatha Uyana, a large marketplace for food and shopping. Shini helped us to book a Tuk Tuk over the phone. It came right at the time we agreed on, and we were on our way.

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The Tuk Tuk is so cute! It's my favourite transportation mode in Sri Lanka. It moves fast and the structure is lighter and less stable than that of a regular car, which makes the ride pretty bumpy, but that's what I like about it.

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A Tuk Tuk can comfortably accomodate up to three average-sized (leaning towards thin) adults.

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It's padded inside and pretty cozy and comfortable.

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The evening peak hour traffic was really heavy! I think being in a Tuk tuk grants the passenger a closer, more intimate experience of the driver's skilful weaving amongst the heavier vehicles. The roads may seem chaotic due to the lack of pedestrian crossings and traffic lights, but I always feel very safe because the drivers seem to know their stuff well.
(Well there was one incident where we saw a Tuk Tuk almost get crushed by two vehicles sandwiching it, but well, almost!)

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All legitimate Tuk Tuks are metered, and the meter is usually found at the top left hand corner. It usually starts from a base fee of 50 LKR. It is very important to ensure the driver starts the meter so that he doesn't come up with some random price to overcharge the passenger. Apparently, non-working meter is a common excuse that drivers often spring on tourists!

On our return journey, we flagged a Tuk Tuk, but when we boarded it, the driver drove a little ways, got off the vehicle and went behind, then told us his meter had broken down and guided us to another Tuk Tuk. That Tuk Tuk had a meter but the meter wasn't moving. We were pretty confused. Thankfully Shini was waiting for us at the doorstep and she spoke with the driver to make sure he didn't overcharge us.

The fare is really quite cheap. It cost 210 LKR there, and 280 LKR back. The journey's about 4km according to Google maps. It is important to have small change on you, otherwise, the driver tends to round it up to a round figure and pocket the extra as tips.

The Good Market @ Diyatha Uyana

I'm not sure if we picked a wrong day / time, but many of the stores were closed and I didn't see any fresh/organic produce and food stuff mentioned on Tripadvisor or their website. Maybe morning would have been a better time to visit? I did see a small aquarium, and a small number of shops and eateries that were open for business.

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Stores are arranged alla flea market style. Clothes were the most common items sold, along with accessories, bags and decorative ornaments. Prices were not particularly cheap, but reasonable enough. I didn't buy anything. Poova bought a lovely long skirt.

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Rows after rows of these tentage-like structures fill the place. Some are just pavilions for resting, but others house stores and eateries. There was plenty of open space and benches to sit and eat or just chill.

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It was a windy evening and my hair's all over the place, but I liked how windy and cooling it was (last cool evening before it gets swelteringly hot). We weren't hungry, so we got a double-scoop ice cream each. Only 80 LKR, and the cone looks like it's shaped like a heart from afar. So cute!

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The centrepiece is a lovely garden with well-groomed bushes and a large fountain in the middle. We saw a couple doing a wedding photoshoot there.

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A plaque explaining the origin of Diyatha Uyana. It was open to public in September 2012, making it a fairly recent attraction!

Diyawanna Oya

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There's a huge lake called Diyawanna Oya a short walk away from the Diyatha Uyana area. It is helmed by a large park which was a very nice place to enjoy a leisurely stroll.

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This blue bridge is nameless, but it's a rather eye-catching structure stretching across the lake!

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Caught the sunset at the lake!

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Boat rides are available at the lake, but this one was empty. It looks rather forlorn here somehow.

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Random tried-to-be-artsy shot.

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I was intrigued by a train-like structure on the opposite bank.

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Back at Diyatha Uyana, I was delighted to capture this beautiful purple sunset sky.

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The blue bridge, engulfed in heavy traffic at night.

Posted by kurodatenshi 07:42 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged landscapes lakes bridges food sri_lanka colombo Comments (0)

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