Bicycle touring Sri Lanka: Sandunpura to Wellawaya

Even though I headed south away from what’s considered the Cultural Triangle, I continued to visit cultural sites. Don’t worry this will be the last blog about old stone Buddhas and old stupa (we hope). I knew, however, that I wasn’t getting away from potential elephant danger right away. At this point in the trip I was still rather scared of forested areas. I was much happier seeing cultivated fields:

IMG_20211220_085933 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211220_093119 by bryandkeith on flickr

than electric fences:

After being attacked by an elephant, I was always scared to see these electric fences.  It meant I was back in elephant territory. by bryandkeith on flickr

Electric fences in Sri Lanka mean they’re trying to keep elephants out. After being attacked I really didn’t want to be anywhere near these beasts.

When I came to that fence, I waited a bit for someone to come before entering the forest area. However, there was no traffic so eventually I just started… slowly. On the other side was a police post. I stopped, pointed in the direction I was going, and asked about elephants. No problem, they said, the elephants are all that way, pointing in the direction I had just come from. This elephant business was not making me happy.

Happily I came to more agriculture:

IMG_20211220_095337 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211220_112335 by bryandkeith on flickr

and even signs of people nearby, flip-flops and a bicycle.

IMG_20211220_100504 by bryandkeith on flickr

There really is very lovely riding in Sri Lanka — so many small roads with so little traffic

IMG_20211221_083236 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_101434 by bryandkeith on flickr

and then you get to lunch.

IMG_20211220_125246 by bryandkeith on flickr

From Sandunpura I headed south passed Bibile, Bakinigahawela, and Okkampitiya to reach Maligawila. It was a couple days of this pleasant riding.

IMG_20211221_083218 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_101440 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_101623 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_101715 by bryandkeith on flickr

When I was taking photos of these coconuts,

IMG_20211221_103407 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_103418 by bryandkeith on flickr

a woman came out of the house and said she was drying them for coconut oil. Later, when I was sitting at a restaurant eating lunch in Okkampitiya, the same woman showed up, also to eat. Ok, it was only about 6km, but it was a nice coincidence.

Maligawila is most famous for its two old stone Buddhas, but there’s a modern temple as well.

IMG_20211221_105626 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211221_110759 by bryandkeith on flickr

I visited Dambegoda Bosath Statue first,

IMG_20211221_112500 by bryandkeith on flickr

but I think Maligawila Buddha Statue is the main attraction:

IMG_20211221_115037 by bryandkeith on flickr

Luckily for me I hung out and enjoyed the serenity at the first Buddha since there was a guy with a gas-powered weed whacker, whacking away at the weeds at the second Buddha.

It was a short ride to historic, peaceful-looking Dematamal Viharaya:

IMG_20211221_132439 by bryandkeith on flickr

made a little less peaceful than it looks since I arrived at the exact moment as a bus full of tourists giving me more attention than I wanted. That attention-as-a-foreigner-on-a-bicycle-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing is actually pretty uncommon in Sri Lanka.

IMG_20211221_133307_10 by bryandkeith on flickr

Jackfruit is an amazing fruit. On this day I bought some from this truck in Okkampitiya:

This is jackfruit for eating like a fruit (waraka) as opposed to the polos (young jackfruit), meloo, or kirikos (mature jackfruit).  I think you know it's waraka when it falls off the tree.  You can also eat the seeds in curry (kos atta). by bryandkeith on flickr

and ate it at my hotel in Buttala:

IMG_20211221_151525 by bryandkeith on flickr

When it’s eaten as a fruit (like in the above photo) in Sri Lanka, it’s called waraka. I understand that you know it’s ready as waraka when the fruit falls off the tree. You can also eat young jackfruit, before the seeds have developed. That’s called polos and is made into a tasty, spicy curry. Polos has a rather meaty texture and consistency. Mature jackfruit is called kiri kos and is made into a mild curry with coconut milk. Sri Lankan meals often have a spicy curry paired with a mild curry so I guess you could have polos and kiri kos at the same meal, but I never have. Between the polos stage and the kiri kos stage, the jackfruit is called meloo. I don’t know what’s done with meloo.

I had also heard that you could eat the jackfruit seeds, kos atta. I saved the ones in the waraka I bought (in the above photo), gave them to my host in Wellawaya, and he made a curry out of them for me. How cool is that! They are chewy like pasta or ravioli. I’ve tried them at least three times now. Very tasty.

Between Buttala and Wellawaya I had to cross a two km elephant corridor. Locals warned me it could be a problem. Proceed slowly, they said. I waited where the electric fences separate the sugar cane fields from the forest, but no one came. So I started… slowly. I was shaking when I got to the sugar cane fields on the other side. Two guys sat me down and shared their breakfast with me. I certainly feel for them having to cross these wildlife corridors every day.

Not far from Wellawaya are the historic stone Buddhas of Buduruwagala. Ok, it’s certainly not Gal Viharaya, but it was a very peaceful site.

IMG_20211222_093828 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20211222_094147 by bryandkeith on flickr

Oh, guess what? There was fresh elephant dung on the road out to Buduruwagala when I passed this reservoir:

IMG_20211222_092415 by bryandkeith on flickr

Unhappy Bryan again, but the rice fields usually cheered me up.

IMG_20211222_081214 by bryandkeith on flickr
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2 Responses to Bicycle touring Sri Lanka: Sandunpura to Wellawaya

  1. Curt Bradner says:

    Gas powered weed wacker at a buddhist sight – is nothing sacred anymore?
    It’s probably those noisy things that have driven the elephants to attacking people, I know that I want to stomp out every noisy leaf blower and weed wacker I see.

  2. Mike Painter says:

    Another travelogue with great scenery, interesting sites, and good looking food.

    Who could ask for anything more ?!?

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