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  Holiday in Sri Lanka October 1998 

See also the Sri Lanka photo album.

4 Oct 98 Flying from Amsterdam, via Abu Dhabi to Colombo
distance   cycling time   average speed   time
hotel   price  


5 Oct 98 Cycling from the airport to Negombo
distance 15km cycling time 1h:00m average speed 15km/h time 8:00AM-9:30AM (1h:30m)
hotel Sun Shine Guest Hotel price 300 Rs
Negombo beach

A lot of new impressions on this first day in Sri Lanka. At the moment, it is winter in the Netherlands what makes the high temperature and humidity of Sri Lanka feel very hot. We have to drive on the left side of the road, which is full of suicidal cars and trucks. It is busy here in the area of the capital Colombo. The smells are so different compared with what we are used to. One of the strange smells is caused by people that burn their trash in the gutter. Only 15km to our first hotel should be enough for the first day. On the beach behind the hotel are a lot of childeren (photo) that play what their self made kites.


6 Oct 98 Cycling from Negombo to Kurunegala
distance 78.8km cycling time 4h:03m average speed 19.4km/h time 7:20AM-13:00PM (5h:40m)
hotel Resthouse price 500 Rs

Although the roads (photo) are made of asphalt, they are more difficult to ride then the roads in Europe. Therefore, the average speed will be less then what we expected. Along the road are many small shops, which sell food and drinks. Not many tourists visit those places, what keeps the prices low.


7 Oct 98 Cycling from Kurunegala to Dambulla
distance 81.7km cycling time 4h:36m average speed 17.8km/h time 7:10h-14:30h (7h:20m)
hotel Oasis Tourists Welfare Center price 200 Rs

It starts to become hilly and we have to do a climb of 10km. In the afternoon we reach Dambulla and choose to stay in a hostel that is called Oasis Tourists Welfare Center. It is a nice place (photo) managed by a friendly and interesting man. We both buy a sarong in village because we will need it to enter the Cave Temple tomorrow.


8 Oct 98 Rest day in Dambulla
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Oasis Tourists Welfare Center price 200 Rs

Today we visit the Cave Temple of Dambulla (photo 1, 2).
The caves' history is thought to date back to around the 1st century BC when King Valagam Bahu, driven out of Anaradhapura, took refuge here. When he regained his throne he had the caves converted into a magnificent rock temple. Later kings made further improvements, including King Nissanka Malla who had the temple interior gilded, earning it the name of Ran Giri- the Golden Rock.


9 Oct 98 Cycling from Dambulla to Anuradhapura
distance 118.6km cycling time 6h:36m average speed 18.0km/h time 7:20h-18:20h (11h:00m)
hotel Sisila Guest House price 200 Rs

Trying to take a short cut, ends in a interesting detour of about 20 km over the dirt roads. On the way to Anuradhapura we visit the statue of Aukane. Unfortunately, it is being renovated what makes it difficult to get a good view. In the afternoon we take a long break and go for a swim in one of the many water basins (lakes).


10 Oct 98 Rest day in Anuradhapura
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Sisila Guest House price 200 Rs

Today we visit the the ancient city of Anuradhapura (photo 1, 2, 3). 
The ancient city Anuradhapura first became a capital in 380BC under Pandukabhaya, but it was under Devanampiya Tissa (260-210BC) in whose reign Buddhism reached Sri Lanka that it first rose to great importance.


11 Oct 98 Cycling from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya
distance  100.4km cycling time  5h:18m average speed  18.9km/h time 7:20h-17:15h (9h:55m)
hotel family Samarakoon Rajapakse price 200 Rs

On our way to Sigiriya we visit Mihintale (photo), 20 km outside Anuradhapura. Here Buddhism has arisen in Sri Lanka. Walking a bit further then most people do, will give you get a splendid view over the area around Anuradhapura (photo). 
When we approach Sigiriya in the afternoon, the road becomes smaller and suddenly it ends at an airplane landing strip. We hesitate what to do. Then at a distance, we see an officer waving, indicating that we should cross the strip and continue our route. In Sigiriya we meet a nice boy who asks us to stay in his house. This night we are guests of family Samarakoon Rajapakse (photo 1, 2, 3, 4).
Mihintale is of enormous spiritual significance to the Sinhalese because it is where Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. In 247 BC King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, while deer hunting around the hill at Mihintale, met Mahinda, son of the great Indian Buddhist Emperor Ashoka, and was converted to Buddhism.


12 Oct 98 Rest day in Sigiriya
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel family Samarakoon Rajapakse price 200 Rs

In the morning we wash our clothes and bikes in a river nearby. Afterwards we visit the tourist attraction of this town: the Lion Rock and the gardens around it (photo). It is quite impressive to see this old fortress on top of this huge rock. Sitting on the stone throne of the King looking over the rain forest, imagining that we see the enemy approaching on their elephants (photo 1, 2).
Because family Samarakoon Rajapakse doesn't have a bathroom, we go in the evening to the swimming pool of one of the expensive hotels in the village (photo). We ourselves don't feel so dirty but the son of the family (Nalih) insists that we take a bath. The Sri Lanka people are so clean.
The rock fortress of Sigiriya. In 473 AD King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura was overthrown and walled up alive by Kasyapa, his son by a palace consort. Moggallana, son by his true queen, fled to India swearing revenge. Kasyape, fearing an invasion, decided to build an impregnable fortress on the huge rock of Sigiriya.


13 Oct 98 Cycling from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa
distance 60.3km cycling time 3h:09m average speed 19.2km/h time 9:00h-13:00h (4h:00m)
hotel Chinese Rest House price 300 Rs

The road is really bad. Only the non asphalt parts are smooth. The country gets more hilly each kilometer. In the evening we take a bath in the water basin near the town Polonnaruwa.


14 Oct 98 Rest day in Polonnaruwa
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Chinese Rest House price 300 Rs

On the bike we visit the Ancient city. Smaller then the site in Anuradhapura, but better preserved (photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). In the evening we take a bath and wash our clothes in the water basin together with the local people (photo). On the other side of the lake we see a group of wild elephants. The locals become slightly nervous because wild elephants can produce quite some damage to small villages. 


15 Oct 98 Cycling from Polonnaruwa to Matale
distance 107.4km cycling time 5h:56m average speed 18.1km/h time 7:10h-16:15h (9h:05m)
hotel Rest House price 650 Rs

The idea was to cycle to Kandy, but because of the rain we stop already in Matale.


16 Oct 98 Cycling from Matale to Kandy
distance 35.0km cycling time 2h:17m average speed 15.4km/h time 9:00h-12:00h (3h:00m)
hotel Pink House price 250 Rs

Only one continuous climbing road. We walk through Kandy (photo) in the afternoon and go to the swimming pool of the expensive hotel next to our lodge.


17 Oct 98 Rest day in Kandy
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Pink House price 250 Rs

In the vicinity of Kandy is a large Botanic garden. Driving on our bike through the Botanic gardens makes this a real rest day (photo 1, 2, 3).


18 Oct 98 Cycling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
distance 85.1km cycling time 7h:41m average speed 11.1km/h time 7:30h-20:00h (12h:30m)
hotel Alpen Tour Inn price 550 Rs

We take a shortcut (not in time) over a hill on dirt roads. In the afternoon we meet an Austrian girl and drink some tea at her farm. Then we still have to climb 20 kilometers steep hill to Nuwara Eliya. It is already late. In the rain and darkness we search for another hour for a cheap hotel that allow us to place our bikes in the room.


19 Oct 98 Rest day in Nuwara Eliya
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Alpen Tour Inn price 550 Rs

Walking around in the town and relaxing in the city park will give us enough energy for the next coming days.


20 Oct 98 Cycling from Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plain
distance 30.2km cycling time 2h:14m average speed 13.5km/h time 8:10h-11:30h (3h:20m)
hotel Farr Inn price 1623 Rs

One large descent and one very, very steep 7 km climb.


21 Oct 98 Cycling from Horton Plain to Belangoda
distance 60.3km cycling time 4h:01m average speed 15.0km/h time 10:15h-17:00h (6h:45m)
hotel Guest House price 400 Rs

Cycling from Horton Plain to Belangoda. In the morning we first walk for 2 hours through the National Park of Horton Plain. Then taking another short cut (again not in time), we cycle 30 km on dirt roads through thee-plantations and have the best ride of the holiday. The last 30 kilometers are luckily only descending on a main road.


22 Oct 98 Cycling from Belangoda to Deniyaya
distance 105.1km cycling time 6h:11m average speed 17.0km/h time 7:45h-17:30h (9h:45m)
hotel Rest House price 450 Rs

First a long drive on the descending main road. Then a very nice scenery and quite road over two mountains.


23 Oct 98 Cycling from Deniyaya to Unawatuna
distance 95.9km cycling time 5h:01m average speed 19.1km/h time 8:00h-15:00h (7h:00m)
hotel Benny's Beach Resort price 300 Rs

Flat country with many houses and palm plantations along the road.


24 Oct 98 Rest day in Unawatuna 
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Benny's Beach Resort price 300 Rs

We go by tuk-tuk to Galle and visit the Dutch ford and Dutch museum. We take a claustrophobic bus back.


25 Oct 98 Rest day in Unawatuna 
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Benny's Beach Resort price 300 Rs

A day on the beach, reading, walking and exploring the Coral riff by snorkel.


26 Oct 98 Cycling from Unawatuna to Moragala
distance 76.7km cycling time 4h:28m average speed 17.2km/h time 8:30h-15:30h (7h:00m)
hotel Rest House price 330 Rs

Just another day of cycling.


27 Oct 98 Cycling from Moragala to Avissawella
distance 76.9km cycling time 4h:37m average speed 16.7km/h time 8:00h-16:00h (8h:00m)
hotel Famous Inn price 750 Rs

Mostly on second roads and only one's on a small road where Tore broke a spoke. After exchanging back wheels we cycle to Avissawella. In the evening we repair the broken spoke in a garage. 


28 Oct 98 Cycling from Avissawella to Kegalle 
distance 51.7km cycling time 3h:03m average speed 16.9km/h time 8:15h-13:30h (5h:15m)
hotel Guest House price 350 Rs

Again just another day.


29 Oct 98 Cycling from Kegalle to Negombo
distance 68.7km cycling time 3h:41m average speed 18.7km/h time 12:00h-17:30h (5h:30m)
hotel Sun Shine Guest Hotel price 300 Rs

In the morning we cycle to the Elephant Orphan home. Then back to the hostel to pick up our baggage. And continue on good roads to our starting point, Negombo.


30 Oct 98 Rest day in Negombo
distance   cycling time   average speed   time 
hotel Sun Shine Guest Hotel price 300 Rs

By train we go to Colombo and walk the whole day through the city. By bus we go back to Negombo.


31 Oct 98 Cycling from Negombo to the airport, flying to Amsterdam
distance 12.2km cycling time 0h:47m average speed 15.5km/h time 4:00h-4:50h (0h:50m)
hotel  price

This day we get up really early because our flight leaves at 7:45 in the morning. When we start cycling at 4:00 it is still dark and the roads are so quit. It is a nice experience to drive through the night. It takes less then an hour to reach the airport of Colombo. We fly via Abu Dabi and London (Gulf Air, British Airways) to Amsterdam (20:30).



Overall distance: 1260 km (1388 km, inclusive cycled kilometers on rest days, without gear)
Number of holidays: 28
Number of cycling days: 18
Number of rest and sightseeing days: 9
Total time on the bike: 74:39:56h

Average speed without rest periods: 16.88 km.h-1 (10.75 km.h-1,with rest periods)

100Rs ~ 1.5 Euro

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This page was last updated on Friday July 29, 2011