The return of the fishermen – Fort Galle – Sri Lanka

While in Sri Lanka I missed the fishermen on stilts, which can be found in many places along the coast  and actually not too far from Galle (pronounce Goal). I have been warned by different people that the are mostly doing for the tourists now, as my guide put it, they do it for real and may not be here when you go there, or it’s just for the show. Anyway I would not have mind taking a few shots for a few rupiahs, but I just missed the show.

However when arriving in Galle I noticed that there are quite a few fishing boats along the shore and I went for a stroll on the morning of our departure for Colombo. This is just outside of the walls of the Fort when to the east. Just 10 minutes walk from the Amangalla hotel (see my TripAdvisor review )

Fishermen return from the sea with fish when they are lucky, here are some of the catch.

I was a bit stressed to have wandered away before the imminent departure so I did not pay too much attention at my shooting : fatal mistake.  Only the first picture is ok grade I think, but I like sharing.

The return of the fishermen – Fort Galle – Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

The fish stall

I am still going through the pictures of Sri Lanka but at the same time rolls of films are pilling up (so to speak) in the hard drive, new cameras have arrives and lenses to try are expected and the  next trip is just around the corner with plans for the second half of the year in the making. I have told too much already, haven’t I? Well, ok, the new camera’s are a Kiev 4 with a 35mm and a 50mm Jupiter lenses and I already done two rolls with it, the other one I’m not supposed to use as it’s my present for the upcoming Bday, it’s a beautiful Leica IIIC, but I’m having a test roll at the moment just to check you know. Ok and the upcoming holidays are 5 days in Taiwan, I plan to shoot on  film only.


For those interested 1st of May will be the International Commie Camera Day 2013, take out your Zorki, Kiew, Praktika and more. Check here on flickrInternational Commie Camera Day 2013


Ok and now back to Sri Lanka.


Nuwara Eliya is a hill station as it used to be called, close to 1800m above sea level, the center of a region of tea plantation. The city itself is very touristy (by local standards) and did not seem to be so interesting, but the countryside and the plantations are worth the visit.

The road from Kandi is about 2 hours, steep and tortuous.

The Tea museum is worth the visit, stopping by one of the tea factories in activity for a commercial tour (and buying tea on the exit) is also worth the stop.

For those like me who like markets the  small food market in the center of town is also a valuable place to visit.


We stayed one night in the Langdale by Amaya, one of the boutique hotels on the other side of the city when coming from Kandy, something like 45 minutes drive. The hotel is built in a old tea estate and you can walk the plantations (if you have time). After Nuwara Eliya, we drive directly to Gallle (see next post), which took us the best of 6 hours, not the best day of the trip.


Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (2/2)

Now is time to swallow fire ! Do not try this at home ….

Oh yeah and at the end of the show the firewalking…


Shots were taken with the D700 and the 80-200F2.8D, and 17-35F2.8D


Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (2/2)

Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (1/2)

Next stop on our trip was Kandy; another Royal city in the middle of the country, at the foot of the hilly region where tea grows. Kandy is quite a large town that unfortunately, due to the pace of our trip we did not have much leisure to visit. There are two main things to see in Kandy: the traditional dances and the Buddha Tooth relic temple.

We arrived in town from Dambulla just for the 17:30 show. The one our guide picked up was held inside the Red Cross Society building, the room was more looking like storage or workshop, but as there is a stage one must assume it is a actual show room.

We were given a paper explaining the various stages of the dance, but frankly I just let go, enjoyed the show and fired 200+ shots.

Shots were taken with the D700 and the 80-200F2.8D, trying to avoid the screens of cell phones and digital cameras in front of me.

Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (1/2)

Dambulla – Sri Lanka

The Dambulla cave temple is also a must see in the region. In the city itself is the Golden Temple which is at the bottom of the hill where the cave temple resided.

Dambulla golden temple – Sri Lanka

The Golden temple has a massive gilded Buddha statue that towers over the temple compound and the road that passes outside. To go to the Cave temple, you have to climb the hill from there of be dropped half way by a vehicle, which we did. Importunately we met some rain on that day and the visit was not so nice nor the pictures from the outside overly successful.

The cave temple is made of many caves, along the same side of the hill, in which you enter through these beautiful while buildings.

Many statues of the Buddha in several positions and kings can be found there, supposedly they have been carved on the stone of the rock itself.

The caves vary in size and shape, the stucco style of paintings on the walls and ceilings are beautiful.

Luckily among the tourist, some devotees are also visiting the temple to bring offerings and worship. Note that some services are held in some of the caves at some times in the day and at that occasion the cave is closed for the duration of the ceremony.

All pictures are taken with the faithful D700, with 50mmF1.8D or the 17-38F2.8D close to max aperture as there is very little light inside. The place was quite busy when we got there and looking for the best pictures opportunity may take some time.

Dambulla – Sri Lanka

Polonnaruwa – Sri Lanka

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country once more under a local leader (wikipedia).

The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.

This is a very impressive site, better visited on bike as it is quite a long way from one side to the other. The archaeological remains and the temples here are quite impressive and frankly they make a greater impression than Anuradhapura.

The above is a pretty poor picture, but it reflect what is the most impressive in Polonnaruwa: partially standing buildings of more than one levels like than one which give a better impression of what the city could have been.

Polonnaruwa – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The area gets its name from the massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high which was once the center of the royal capital built by King Kasyapa (Wikipedia)

Long exposure on tripod with Hasselblad and ND 8 filter

Long exposure on tripod with D700 and ND 8 filter+Polarizer

Once on top the view is amazing; the ruins themselves and not extraordinary, it’s a good idea to pass by the museum at the entrance of the site to get an idea of what to find and how archaeologist think it was before going up.
On mid climb one can find some very nice paintings as the one below.

Climbing up the rock is quite a good exercise, the walk is steep and mostly done through 900 steps carved in rock on on metal ladders.

Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Mihintale – Sri Lanka

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of where Buddhism started in Sri Lanka.
It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

The old monk keeping the image room of the dagoba on top of Mihintale hill

On top of the hill is a large Dagoba that can be seen from afar. A the back is the image room with its statue of reclining Buddha. This old monk invited us to have a look, leave our appreciation on the visitors look and offering. One opportunity to take the Hassie out of the bag.

The Daboba and prayer flags

The Rock opposite

Opposite le Dagoba is another rock which top one can climb, the surrounding landscape is breath taking, with a lot of water expanses that were man made if I remember well. You can also see old brick Dabogas under the vegetation.

The Buddha statue

A large statue of the Buddha can also be found on one side of the hill.

The Daboga at half height

This smaller Daboga can be found at half the height or the hill. At its back is a monastery.

Japanese Pilgrim

On our way down we met a group of Japanese Pilgrims chanting their way up the peak to spend the night at the monastery (so were we told). Apparently they come once a year for this.

Mihintale – Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Jetavana Dagoba

We spent our second day in Sri Lanka in Anuradhapura. This is a region of archaeological remains and Buddhists temples situated at the 2/3rds of the country height. Roughly 250 km from Colombo and 5 good hours driving from the airport due to the roadworks. It is not yet what used to be called the “north” during the civil war.

Thuparama Dagoba

There are many sites of interest around the region and according to our guide you can spend a couple of days cycling around visiting different dagobas and palace or monastery ruins.

Thuparama Dagoba

Other particular interest are the Sri Maha Bodhi, a Bodhi planted 300 years BC; the massive Jetavana Dagoba, The Samadhi Buddha Image, the nice cave temple called Isurumuniya Rajamaha Viharaya.

Lankaramaya Dagoba

“Dagoba” is the local word for Stupa, a religious building made to contain relics or remains (you cannot enter them). What is typical of Sri lanka are the stone pillars thatare surrounding the stupa. They were mean to support a long gone wooden roof.

Around the Sri Maha Bodhi

We stayed at Ulagalla resort a in between Anuradhapura and Kandi.

Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – one post of many to come

Tea Plantation workers - Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation workers – Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

So here I am back from Sri Lanka! We did a big tour in only 10 days and that was far too much. The country is big (bigger than Singapore for sure), and there are so many interesting things to see. We mostly visited the archaeological remains and Buddhist monuments from the center, the tea plantations, the beautiful Fort Galle in the south before a quick tour of Colombo.

I took far too many pictures, and too much gear as usual. For those who did not read my travel pots before, I brought the usual travel kit : a Nikon D700 DSRL, a 50mmF1.8D, a 17-35F2.8D, a 80-200F2.8D and a Hasselblad 500CM with the 80mmF2.8, plus tripod, plus small accessories and of course my son’s coolpix 7100.

I disappointed myself on the Hasselblad this time, I only managed to take 3 rolls, including 3 or 4 ruined pictures, but that’s life. We did a lot of driving and did not have much time to wander around in villages and towns. I could not resist to post these two which are the best of the first B&W roll.

Tea Plantation workers - Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation workers – Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

These Hindu women picking up tea leave in a plantation close to Nuwara Eliya. They are refered by our Cingalese driver as “Indian Tamils” by opposition to the Local Tamils. They are people who came from India (or so did their ancestors) to work in the plantations, I understood that they are not migrant workers as they tend to settle down. (well that’s what was told).

Sri Lanka – one post of many to come