By YASODHA PANIRSEVAM
I celebrated my birthday this year in Sri Lanka with my two sisters.
Our trip started in Colombo, and from there, we took a car to Kandy, which is also known as “hill city”. As we wanted to make the most of our time in the country, we explored the place right away.
Our hotel was right opposite a restaurant that’s famous for a Sri Lankan meal called lamprais. It consists of rice, seeni sambol (sweet onion sambal), fish cutlet, chicken, egg and brinjal, and is the one thing you must try when you’re there.
Some of the places worth visiting in Kandy include Kandy Lake, Kandy View Point, Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic and The White Buddha statue. The statue can actually be seen from many parts of the city and is very beautiful at night.
The next day, we went to the rock fortress Sigiriya and the Dambulla cave, both of which are Sri Lanka's Unesco Heritage Sites. Sigiriya, with its 1,202 steps, was challenging for me to climb, especially since the sun was scorching hot.
According to legend, Sigiriya is as old as Earth, and is a volcano plug. Many visitors go there so the place is always crowded.
We were a little tired after that so we only managed a quick trip to Dambulla.
We couldn’t contain our excitement when we boarded our train for one of the world’s most scenic train rides, the journey from Kandy to Ella. We had problems getting tickets but we managed to get on a third class reserved cabin. It was simple but comfortable and clean so we were happy with that.
It was really a journey to remember as we saw spectacular sceneries, tea plantations, cute British-styled train stations and stationmasters and of course, lovely tracks. We arrived in Ella seven hours later, happy and content.
At Ella, we checked out the Nine Arch Bridge, the Dova Temple, Halpe Tea Factory, Ravana Falls and Little Adam’s Peak, which we climbed. Nine Arch Bridge was my favourite among all. The bridge is 91m long and 24m high. It was built during the British reign of Sri Lanka.
I feel like Ella is where I belong as it had so much to offer.
Upon returning to Colombo, we decided to have a slow and easy day, simply enjoying our surroundings. We took some time to visit Pettah Street, Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque (or the candy-coloured mosque), Galle Fort, the Parliament, the old Dutch hospital and several shopping areas.
During one of our taxi rides, the driver asked, “Are you from Malaysia? Your Prime Minister is a very good man.”
I felt proud to be a Malaysian at that very moment.