Jaffna & Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
After dipping my toes into Sri Lanka with January's short jaunt to Galle, I'm thrilled to be back. I loved the little lighthouse town but I knew there was so much more to the teardrop island and I wasn't wrong. We started with a nine-hour (yes, it was that painful) train ride to Jaffna. It's not a part of Sri Lanka many tourists visit – cue shock from everyone when I said I was going there – but I'm so glad I did. I'm reading Michael Ondaatje's memoirs about his family in Sri Lanka and he describes the country as changing "every ten miles". He wasn't kidding: Jaffna couldn't have been more different from where I'm currently sat in Ella if it tried.
We wandered around the old fort, getting blown away by our surroundings (literally). Jaffna holds a sad history of hatred between the Tamils and Sinhalese but the people we spoke to would hardly acknowledge it. Their focus was on the future and finding positivity.
After Jaffna we moved down to Anuradhapura, where the beautiful stupa at the top of the page sat magnificently. I was laughed at for saying that I love stupas, but I really do. There is something exquisitely beautiful about the way they rise up, particularly Nepal's Bouddanath Stupa. Wandering around this one gave me a sense of peace that had been missing ever since I left Abu Dhabi.
From there came Dambulla, a collection of Buddhist carvings in caves high up in the Sri Lanka countryside. We had to climb up step after step to reach these caves but it was definitely worth the effort. You can scarcely imagine how the creators of these statues could have achieved what they did hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and yet the evidence is sat before you.
That's the thing about Sri Lanka: it's so old, and yet we don't think about it in that sense.
Anuradhapura was founded as the capital in 377 BC and the foundations of buildings from thousands of years ago are scattered around. It is, quite simply, remarkable. I've been to Rome, it's not as if it's the first time I've wandered through ancient history, and yet it continues to blow my mind.
I'm not a very good travel blogger. I get so swept up in all that I'm seeing that I forget to take good photos of it. I have a few snaps here and there but they're hardly spectacular, although what I'm seeing is. I toyed with the idea of not posting at all but then I remembered this is my blog and I can write whatever I want, so I figured I'd pop up a few pictures and hope that at least my family enjoy a taste of what I'm seeing.
Other than that I've decided to live in the moment. I'm still trying to process leaving Abu Dhabi, a move that has been even harder than I expected, and Sri Lanka is a bizarre limbo for me between my old life at university and going home to England.
So I'm using this time to avidly sip coconut water from the actual fruit and laugh as elephants cross the rode in front of me. For some reason the monsoon rains as we drove past tea plantations made me deliriously happy yesterday, and I've decided not to question why. Instead I shall embrace each emotion as they come and enjoy the simple pleasures of sunsets over the mountains and cryptic crosswords with my mumma.
I'm not very good at being present, but Sri Lanka sure is giving me good practise at it.