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Nuwariya Eliya (Sri Lanka) to Fraser's Hill (Malaysia), March 2011

When we brought our visit to Sri Lankan’s hill country to an end, we were still not sure about the way we wanted to spend our last ten days in the country. However, what we knew for sure is that we wanted to visit also a less touristy part of the island. We spent most of our time in the south, west and central part of the country and that is the area where most travellers go. We thought about going to the east coast or to the northern tip of the island, but because of the rainy weather conditions predicted for the eats coast, we chose for the latter option. The northern part of Sri Lanka is still infamous for the fact that this area was the battleground for one of Asia’s longest lasting civil wars, the conflict between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers. But fortunately, things changed and the area is safe for travellers now.

Unfortunately, we had to travel back to the capital Colombo first to obtain the necessary permit for travelling to Jaffna, the main city in the north. It is purely a bureaucratic process, but for some reason the military still wants to know exactly who is travelling to the north. After arriving in Colombo, we immediately went to the Ministry of Defence to submit our application. We had to write on a piece of paper who we are and why we wanted to travel to Jaffa. The military official told us to come back after three days to collect the permit. During the days we had to spend in Colombo to wait for the permit, we decided to visit one of the 2011 world championship Cricket games. India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were the host countries of this event, and Colombo was one of the cities where games were played. We managed to get tickets for the Pakistan-Canada match (only € 1.50 each!), and after spending some hours in the internet cafe to learn the rules of Cricket, we went to the stadium to enjoy the game. It was a great experience in a country that is mad about cricket (see also the article: Cricket for dummies, like us).

Street scene in Jaffna in the northern tip of Sri Lanka
After we got the permits, we travelled in one long bus day to the city of Jaffna. The first part of the journey, till the town of Vavuniya, went over a good road. The remaining four hours weren’t that comfortable, because of the fact that the road is still not repaired after the war. On the way to and from Jaffna, and also in the town itself, there is still a lot of evidence of the decades of fighting. But Jaffna made a very good impression on us. As expected, there were no other tourists and the people of Jaffna were very welcoming and friendly. We enjoyed our time in town very much, despite the fact that there isn’t a lot to see for visitors. Just being there, walking around and chatting with the people is part of the fun. After our visit to Jaffna we took the bus back to the town of Anuradhapura, the oldest city and first capital of the island. Of some of the old buildings, impressive ruins still show how great this city must have been more than a thousand years ago. A visit to this place is a good way to experience also something of Sri Lanka’s rich past. After Anuradhapura, our visit to Sri Lanka almost came to an end. We took the bus to the beach town Negombo where we stayed our last days in the country. Negombo is close to the international airport and for that reason a better base if you have an early flight to catch. Negombo itself is not very interesting and the beaches are dirty and depressing, especially if you experienced the beaches on the south coast. So, if you are planning to organise a beach holiday to Sri Lanka, try to avoid Negombo, is our opinion.

Our flight from Colombo to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia departed exactly on time on March 12th. And because we didn’t pay Air Asia for ‘reserved seats’, they didn’t gave us seats next to each other, despite the fact that the plane wasn’t full at all. We each got a seat in the same row, but on the other side of the isle. This also happened to another couple in our row, so after changing seats with them, we still sat next to each other. The flight was comfortable and after less than four hours, we arrived on the low cost terminal (LCCT) in Kuala Lumpur. We were here several times before during our journey and we were happy to be back again. Malaysia is a beautiful country with great people and staying here is comfortable and enjoyable. All facilities are available (like well stocked supermarkets) and that is a nice experience after travelling for a while in countries like India and Sri Lanka.

Well-stocked book shop in Kuala Lumpur

We eventually stayed almost two weeks in Kuala Lumpur. We enjoy the ‘luxury’ that the city has to offer. Ivonne also went to the dentist and we bought a new photo camera. Our previous camera was worn-out and needed to be replaced. We decided to buy a compact camera, just to experience if it is a good alternative for the heavy and voluminous SLR camera that we had. We also arranged our Thai visa in Kuala Lumpur, sent ten kilo’s of goods back home and enjoyed a lot of coffee on the Starbuck terrace in the centre of town. We love Kuala Lumpur!

After Kuala Lumpur we took the bus to the old king’s city of Kuala Selangor. Nothing from the past is still there, but the little town has a great nature park, which is famous among birders. We visited this park before with the parents of Edwin in 2008, but didn’t watch birds at that time. Now we were back and enjoyed the park for several days. We saw 28 new species that we hadn’t seen before in Malaysia. We want to spend our remaining time in Malaysia mainly in the ‘green’ areas of the peninsular. After our visits to busy India and Sri Lanka, we look forward to spend some time in quiet and green areas. We are now for example in Fraser’s Hill, a famous hill station on the peninsular. It is a beautiful hilly area with great forests and beautiful monkeys and birds. Siamangs and Gibbons swing from branch to branch and the songs of beautiful birds fill the small valleys. We spent here already fours days and decided to extent our visit with one more week. After Fraser’s Hill, we definitely also visit the Cameron Highland and the world-famous national park Taman Negara.

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