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essays | places

Sri Lanka

tiny giant


Pottuvil / Sri Lanka · 2015   tree temple



   Coming in from nearby Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka felt like a soberer, stiller India, even though it was so much more concentrated, size-wise. Similar colors, semi-similar culture, but a little less randomness and scatter-stuff. It was like a slow detox, sipping on the light version of the same juice. Excellent juice, made from ocean and tea and sari-colors.


a glimpse

passages   TRAIN TRACK TREK TALES | Leading past ocean horizons, snuggly tea-valleys, and neon rice, Sri Lanka’s train journeys are de facto destinations, at least for tourists. But the train tracks carry more stories to those who listen: plots of struggles, resilience, and fortitude, plots of the people, of the people who travel the rails by foot, who live the rails.


Elephant with one tusk in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

passages   THE LAST TUSK |

Just one more, we said. One more can’t hurt. Let’s take that one.

Just one more, we said, again and again.

Until one day, there was just one more.



Sri Lanka · 2015   train worm



Little Adam's Peak, Ella / Sri Lanka · 2015   green neck



Kandy / Sri Lanka · 2015   fountain heart


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Oh, sweet salt water. To play in you, to be in you. 

 Trincomalee / Sri Lanka · 2015   green coast

Snorkels, sharks, sunburns.

Nilaveli / Sri Lanka · 2015   looking forward

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places / stories

Arugam Bay / Not That Serious


Arugam Bay / Sri Lanka · 2015   catching a ride to the shore


Arugam Bay was a little too cozy, too surfy, too soft and sweet to be taken completely seriously, but I made some suitcase friends who were less bland than many backpackers.


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Arugam Bay / Sri Lanka · 2015   no worry


Arugam Bay / Sri Lanka · 2015   bay for a day


Next door Pottuvil looked like it had never seen a tourist. If Arugam was a bubble, Pottuvil was whatever is left when a bubble bursts – free molecules, flying and falling and dancing.



Pottuvil / Sri Lanka · 2015   beach religion


One day we took a little trip to Kudumbigala, a rock monastery whose monks sure knew where to put their workplace. Those views.



Kudumbigala / Sri Lanka · 2015   into the wind


Kudumbigala / Sri Lanka · 2015   atop a rock



Kudumbigala / Sri Lanka · 2015   top of the rock



Kudumbigala / Sri Lanka · 2015   stony tongue


On the way back, we saw a giant, but I already told you that little story here.


Sigiriya & Minneriya / Safari Ethics 


Sigiriya / Sri Lanka · 2015   top rock


That one was another penniless year for me, so we snuck into Sigiriya. Not all the way up the fat rock. Just a little, past the fence and close enough to get a sense for its dimensions. 


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Minneriya / Sri Lanka · 2015   convoy


Minneriya / Sri Lanka · 2015   only child


The interaction, or rather non-interaction, between jeeps and elephants at the world's largest Asian elephant gathering at Minneriya National Park was respectful until it wasn't. Some drivers stopped just a little short of those elephant toes and the mothers would start shielding their clumsy offspring. A common argument is that tourism helps conservation, but it's probably not a good sign if the only thing that keeps us from annexing every last non-human habitat is a bit of petty cash.



Minneriya / Sri Lanka · 2015   line-ups


Hikkaduwa / Smiles


Hikkaduwa / Sri Lanka · 2015   beach bliss


Hikkaduwa was a popular beach haven, discovered by the hippies and exploited by those who followed. I stopped by an orphanage that was affiliated, at the time, with a nonprofit I know, and they received me like an inspector. Everything was neat and clean, and some smiles were put on, but it was clear that it wasn't all smiles.



Hikkaduwa / Sri Lanka · 2015   smiley


Hikkaduwa / Sri Lanka · 2015   order in the zoo


South Coast / Hopping

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Tangalle / Sri Lanka · 2015   in the shop


Tangalle / Sri Lanka · 2015   fishing armada



Tangalle / Sri Lanka · 2015   fisherman hut


With all its little town truffles, the South Coast had me quite the hopper. Pre-industrial fishing, temple islets, old town colors, it all sat well with me. 



Weligama / Sri Lanka · 2015   palmy drop



Galle / Sri Lanka · 2015   cozy cobble


Matara / Sri Lanka · 2015   opportune temple



Sri Lanka · 2015   ocean train


My journey started and ended in Colombo, but I was too busy arriving and departing to take pictures.




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