From the Hill Country to the Coastal Plains

Today my destination was Tissamaharama (or “Tissa” for short) in the southeast of Sri Lanka.  This involved retracing my steps across the hill country back to Ella. Regular readers will have noticed that my route has not been very logical over the last few days, travelling the section between Nuwara Eliya and Ella three times, but I won’t bore you with the reasons for this. Just outside of Nuwara Eliya I experienced yet another version of the hunt for fuel – this time a successful refuelling at a bus depot.  This was a much more relaxed experience, without the embarrassment of cutting in front of long queues of people who had been waiting for days.

Relaxed refuelling at a bus depot

We stopped at Ella so that I could get a drink in one of the many cool cafes. Then I asked to make a short detour to visit the famous nine arches bridge, one of Ella’s most famous sights and one which I had missed on my earlier visit. The narrow path was not suitable for our van, so I asked the price from a tuk-tuk for the short 1.5km trip to the bridge. His offer was very high, and he refused to negotiate (more tourists in this part of Sri Lanka!) so I set off on foot instead. I am not sure if I found exactly the right way, because the view of the bridge I saw was different to the one that you see in all the tourist brochures. Still, it was nice to stretch my legs a bit.

An unusual perspective of The Nine Arches Bridge

From Ella, the road led steeply downhill towards the coastal plains. The scenery was pretty, with many waterfalls.

Near the town of Wellawaya I asked the guide to do another detour to see some famous standing buddha statues, carved out of a large rock.  Once again, I had a beautiful site with ancient (1000 years old) monuments all to myself.

1000 year old Buddha carvings

Form Wellawaya the road became flat and straight, and I dozed off until we had arrived at Tissa, where we made another stop to admire the brilliant white, perfectly formed Tissa Dagoba. This was originally built in 200BCE but was in excellent condition, having been completely restored about a hundred years ago.

Tissa Dagoba

The town of Tissa had a beautiful location, sitting on a large artificial lake covered with lilies and lotus flowers. My hotel was a little way outside of the centre, next to a different lake.

Waiting in vain for a sunset

After I checked in, I sat by the lake for a while hoping to see the sunset, but yet again, the sun dipped behind clouds just before setting – I have yet to see a sunset in Sri Lanka. I had an early dinner, admiring the view of brightly-lit Tissa Dagoba in the distance across the lake.  I went to bed very early – the next day I had booked a safari to the famous Yala National Park, and had to leave at 5am.

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