Life & Travel

Praise the 'lowlights'

Praise the lowlights

By Lonneke — September 23, 2015 07:04 pm
Life & Travel, Sri-Lanka

Travelling consciously, to us this means we look for different experiences than the ones offered by the tourist agencies. Take in account our low budget too, and the results are more genuine adventures, very valuable to us and fitting our desires; all our small highlights.

Of course our hike to Little Adam's Peak near Ella is a suitable example. I won't hide behind the fact that we have three children walking and clambering with us, because their fitness exceeds mine substantionally. But this was a fairly easy hike, with a hefty climb to the peak, the path meandering through the tea plantations. Except for the birds singing it was so silent and peaceful (especially in contrast to the never ending bellowing of the ocean in Arugambay), there weren't many other people and of course it was for free. Now I totally neglect the whole religious importance of 'real' Adam's Peak, but this very frequentely visited highlight is superbusy, much higher (the shortest route is 6442 stairs) and of course you have to pay an entrance fee, as it goes with spots that are labelled highlights.

For the children, Sri Lanka equals the strong, high waves that hurl you on the granular sand under the burning sun. Finding strangelooking fruit on the road and cutting it open with their knifes. Or making swords out of big palmtreeleaves - also with their precious knifes, obviously.

Seeing the small green bananas growing on the tree and hoping they will be ripe before we leave, so we can harvest them ourselves. They look in amazement at the palmtrees with their coconuts, the many iguanas and other unknown animals (including a bloodsucker on the leg of our middle son), even the countless squirrels were a big surprise to our youngest one, since he was under the impression that these only existed in fairytales (there are no squirrels on our island Texel, when we walk through the forrest, our running gag is to throw a pine cone against a tree and say: look there, a squirrel! This is how these little creatures became a similar phenomenon to dwarfs and elfs). They pity the wretched straydogs and the poor people and are delighted by all the fresh fruit juices.

Some of my favorite moments were discovering the thousands of fruitbats in the trees by the lake in Tissamaharama (not mentioned in our guidebook), or when we took a tuktuk to the busstation of Pottuvil, crossing a bridge and the driver casually pointing out an elephant in the delta underneath. Watching the fishermen and the oxcart on the beach, loading up a huge shimmering fish.

For Arjan it is travelling by public bus, where you meet the locals and thus feel more of the real lives lived here.

Today was another beautiful expedition, to the nine arches bridge (not mentioned in our guidebook), a hundred year old bridge completely made of stone. The hike was really exciting and exactly as we wrestled our way down a muddy, barely-there path, we heard a loud steam-whistle and there it was: a colorful train, crossing the bridge into the tunnel, such a magnificent view!

The ironic thing was, after this we wanted to spend money to enter a tea factory and this was quite impossible (they claimed they had no change). On we went, only to find that the person selling water had no change either (no large amount, just a few hundred rupees), we could not buy traintickets for the next day and almost didn't manage to catch a tuktuk back to our guesthouse. We walked through the rain, laughing: nobody wants our money!

Certainly it is difficult at times, to travel for eight hours by public bus with a few transfers instead of hiring a minivan, or walk as much as possible instead of taking the tuktuk or not ordering fruit juices all day long, but bringing a bottle of water and not going on safari to every national park. But it fills us with a very proud feeling too: we can manage like this, we can see the details and enjoy the real, spontaneous events and encounters that derive from this mindset. It matches our do-it-yourself mentality. So hail to these lowlights, may we discover many more!

We took off in 2015 with a year of travelling the world with our 3 awesome wingmen, wasting time on the better things in life. From that day on we document our endeavours and make things happen.