We spent the first four days in Kataragama, near Yala National Park. We stayed at an amazing little eco resort called Heina Nature Resort. We had the place to ourselves the whole time we were there, so we got to hang out with the staff (especially Anura (the owner) and Bhatia (our guide). The cook at the resort is a young woman who was trained by Anura's mother. Every meal was amazing. In fact, when we went to Colombo, we gave up on finding good Sri Lankan food because it was clear we'd already had the best.
If you follow me on Instagram of Facebook, you've already seen a bit of Heina (and the food!), but, in case you don't, here's a sampling. Apologies for the low lighting on the dinner plates, we ate outside.
Enough yammering. Here's the best of 12 hours in the park. The captions aren't working for most pictures, so you're on your own to identify the critters until I can fix it. Look closely at the last picture and you'll see an Asian black bear hiding in the bushes!
After 4 wonderful days spent lounging, reading, eating and sightseeing in Kataragama, we said our goodbyes and boarded the bus to Colombo. The cross country bus ride is one of the worst I've ever experienced (no bathroom stops), but a taxi ride between the cities costs $100 or more. So, we had little choice.
Colombo was nice, though the traffic and car pollution was a bummer (especially having come from the peaceful wonderland of Heina Nature Resort). Still, I'm glad we went to the city and it was nice to have an urban experience to compare against our rural one.
A wet blanket on our time in the city was transport. The tuk tuk drivers in Colombo were terrible. They didn't know where things were, refused to brave traffic, used the classic " Oh, my meter is broken!" and would say they knew a place when they didn't. I'd never had a bad time with tuk tuks until Colombo.
Kind people + great food + animals + amazing architectural and natural sites = one hell of an experience.
Our next two trips are little ones. We'll be spending Christmas in Bahrain and in February we are going to Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE for a half marathon. Stay tuned!