In the middle of the night we arrive at the airport in Negombo. Our Airbnb host organized a tuk tuk for us. To our surprise, both of our bicycles fit in perfectly. After a short night we build our bikes together and make our way to the kitespot in Kalpitiya.
The heat and the high humidity almost kills us. It starts to rain in Chilaw about half way to Kalpitiya. The first rain since a long time. In a bakery shop we find a dry place. Here we discover the delicious Rotis. Unlike in India, these are wrapped peta breads available with different fillings, vegetables, meat, fish or egg. In Chilaw we find the first supermarket since a long time. We ask around for a reasonable accommodation, which we find after a long zic zac ride. Early the next morning we drive the last piece to Kalpitiya. The expensive prices here for food, lodging and kite hire hit us hard. After much back and forth we decide to stay and find a acceptable accommodation in Kalpitiya. The lagoon has several kite resorts. We settle at Srilankakite Resort, where it is possible to launch directly from their bungalows. All other resorts must take a shuttle bus to the other side of the lagoon. In addition, the owner Fabio of Srilankakite is a Swiss Romand, who has discovered the lagoon first. He’s a multiple snowkite champion and the best kite dude on the lagoon! So we are in good hands. On Sunday we start kiting. The first day Judith takes a refresher course with instructor Erwin. On Monday she already manages to stay upwind. She is still coached by Steffen. So Andi can concentrate on his jumping progress. Even without coach Judith is in best hands. The beach boys always keep an eye on here. We also enjoy the benefits of renting the equipment so after a drink at the bar we do not have to look after our kites as they have already been packed away by the beachboys in the meantime👍
Kiting is even more exhausting then cycling. So we take a dolphin boat trip as a rest day and enjoy that the wind picks up only around noon and we can sleep in. In addition, we have yet found a cheap and beautiful place near Srilankakite in the Kite Life Resort. With our bikes we are very mobile and cycle the bumpy road to Kalpitiya for shopping.
Together with the two Austrians Lisa and her mother Elisabeth we make a sightseeingtour to Ella. By taxi it goes to Kandy. Kandy is teeming with tourists, who want to catch the 11am train. After a six-hour train ride we arrive in Ella. The train ride in and of itself is a huge experience. We enjoy the train surfing at the door and have the best view of the green, hilly and very fertile landscape. Tea plantations, fir forest, terrace gardens and rainforest alternate, while the train slowly climbs up to 1900m ASL. The railway was built in 1858 by the British.
In Ella, a very touristy village, we stay overnight. Because of the bad weather Lisa and Elisabeth go south for whale watching. We defy the rain and stay with our plan. In the afternoon we use a dry window and walk to Little Adams Peak. That was really nice. The next morning we travel by train to Haputale, where we make another hike through the tea plantations. It is very nice, even if the view is missing because of the fog. Since the train ride is too slow, we go by tuk tuk directly to Nuwara Eliya, where we then change to the bus to Kandy. We long for our bikes, because we feel that we do not really see much of the area while traveling by bus. In addition, we are tired of long sitting. The next morning is again extremely exhausting, because we travel with the public buses back to Kalpitiya. The ride on the honking buses is exciting, but extremely long. I took us the same amount of time as traveling by bike!
We have two more kiting days with best wind conditions. Judith can now ride upwind and the first few turns succeed her.
At sunrise, we cycle back to the airport on Sunday the 4th of February. It is the national holiday of Srilanka. Everywhere we see the national flags blowing. At noon we find a fisherman’s hut on the beach. The fisherman Fernando asks about our names, religion and leaves the fishing to Andi. Unfortunately, the big catch is missing. Religion is very important here. Fernando proudly shows us his cross. Although Srilanka has 70% Buddhists, we mostly meet Muslims and Christians. Because Kalpitiya is 70% Muslim. There are women, who even wear gloves and facial veils, that cover the whole face. Religion is very present. Whether the Catholic taxi driver, the Islamic tuk tuk driver or the Hindu bus driver all pray for a good trip and do not hesitate to stop and pray at the roadside near a mosque or a statue and let the guests wait.
Conclusion: We had a great time in Kalpitiya with kiting and an exciting break from cycling. The lagoon is really great and very windproof. Unfortunately the whole area is extremely overpriced. The competition and the jealousy between the resorts is extreme! Srilankakite even had a fire two years ago. Unfortunately we did not see much of the island except our short sightseeing tour to Ella. But we are convinced that Srilanka is a great country to travel by bike. The infrastructure seems to be better than in India. In the bigger places there are good shopping possibilities. Srilanka is a very popular tourist destination. That’s why it’s hard to find budget accommodation. Mostly we did not find the price-performance ratio well adjusted. We found this tiring, since Andi no longer had a sleeping mat, so we were dependent on the hostels. Culinary we especially liked the Rotis, which are partly extremely spicy. The Hoppers became our favorite snack: in small pans, a kind of rice omelette is prepared and if you wish you can have it with a fried egg in it. This was the only thing, that was not too hot! The Sri Lankans love it extremely spicy and sweet. We always had to be careful not to get extra sugar in our fruit juices. Also getting an unsweetened coffee with milk was usually an impossibility, as they use sweetened condensed milk.