Wednesday, December 31, 2008

31st Dec – On route to Adams Peak and the long journey through the mountains

We left Sigiriya early in the morning setting off for the 5 ½ hour drive to Sri Pada (Adams Peak) I can’t quite believe I’m actually going to be doing something that was only a far fetched idea a few months ago. It just shows you if you actually want something to happen, it can if you put your mind to it. Lets hope it will be a new years to remember and not just because I’ll be sober for a change!


The journey to Adams Peak took us through the Hill Country regions with ever steeper paths and winding bends cut into the sides of the mountains. Occasionally my heart was in my mouth when we got a little too close to the edge and all I can see was what looked like an infinite drop into the valleys below. The scenery was breathtaking and the 5 ½ hour journey once again passed quickly without a moment of being bored.


I was staying at the ‘Slightly Chilled’ Guest House at the foot of Adams Peak. I got chatting to quite a few people staying there with the same intentions as myself, to see the New Year in from the summit. Again it was great to learn how and why other people ended up doing the same thing as me.

I took the advice to get some sleep before the climb and set off about 2am so I will be able to reach the top to see the sun rise. So technically I was asleep for New Year here in Sri Lanka but I’m still on UK time which means I’ll be seeing the new year in as the sun is coming up.



The climb was bloody hard and nothing like I expected. It was a fascinating experience, passing pilgrims singing religious songs, families and the odd tourist with the same intentions as myself. Everyone I met along the way were so friendly, there were many happy new year wishes shared on the way up and on the way down.


So after the 5247 steps (I’m not sure quite how they count the boulders, rocks and paths as steps) I reached the summit. By then I was so hot and tired and the cold temperature and winds at the top were refreshing - for a while. Then it got pretty cold and I put a few layers of cloths on ready to sit it out, waiting for the sun to rise on 2009.


It was quite a surreal experience wondering around the temple at the top. The pilgrims from all religions come to see the ‘footprint’ at the top of the peak. Its said to be the footprint of Buda, Adam (Adam and Eve) or whoever else is your religion – not sure who is right? There were hundreds of people waiting at the top, huddled so tightly together in small rooms. There were also groups of people huddled around fires at the top, as well as people just standing about waiting. Everyone up there was very friendly; I wasn’t long between new conversations being started. There are so many interesting stories to be heard and I listened to a fair few.

After I worked out where the east was I looked for a good spot and there was nowhere too great, in the end I climbed around a fence and got onto a ledge at the front of the temple overlooking the valleys and had the perfect view ready for the sunrise. I was seriously lucky to get this spot, away from the hundreds of other people, but then you do make your own luck!




well I don’t need to say too much about the sunrise its self, only that it was an experience I don’t think I will forget any time soon and I don’t think there is a better way to see the new year in.

I made a fairly rapid descent back down, a lot easier that going up and a good opportunity to get a little exercise in after eating curry 24/7! As soon as I got back I got some sleep and was ready to set off for Nuwara Eliya, the hill country and the tea plantations.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30th Dec – On route to Sigiriya and the first taste of Tropical Sri Lanka

By getting a private driver it’s opened up so many doors to what I can do and achieve in the time I have in Sri Lanka. After you add up the cost of public transport, the time and inconvenience of getting from one place to the next and then add the fact that I have a guide to explain about where I am going and what I am seeing; its seems like the right decision, only time will tell.

After chatting to Thilak (my driver) we have worked out a rough plan of where to go and what to do, I’m still open to suggestions as I journey around but he is a wealth of knowledge and has managed to include a number of things into the route which I didn’t believe was possible before.

Mount Lavinia to Sigiriya

Mount Lavinia was my first stop, it’s a beach town just south of the capital Colombo, it was certainly a fantastic and beautiful place to start my trip.


The journey from Mount Lavinia to Sigiriya takes about 3 ½ hours. Once we got past Colombo and started to reach the outskirts of the city it soon started to get more rural and tropical with palm tree forests and was exactly how I pictured Sri Lanka to be.


Every so often there would be a small hut selling fresh coconuts to drink and eat, so we stopped a few times to get some fresh coconut juice. Its refreshing stuff and you know the stuff inside is good as they cut it open in front of you, making a small hole in the top for your straw. Once your done they’ll cut it open for you so you can eat the rest of it – its damn good stuff!


It was pretty amazing to see so many monkeys roaming around everywhere, its still a bit surreal and I’m taking it in bit by bit.


The journey to Sigiriya flew by, there was so much to see along the way I had no need to read or do anything else.

The guest house I stayed in at Sigiriya was a picture perfect bungalow set in the middle of the forest and only 10 minutes from the Sigiriya Rock which is what I have come here to see and climb.


I set off for the Sigiriya Rock AKA Lions Rock. It looked amazing in the photos before I came and seeing it for the first time in real life certainly didn’t disappoint! It is such a huge and impressive rock erupting out of the jungle below.


It is said to be the 8th wonder of the world, I’m not sure how official that is but I can see exactly why they say it. SIGIRIYA - LION ROCK.


There were so many steps up to the top, it was a killer on your legs. It was a pretty tough climb to the top but once you’re up there it was worth every step and the views were incredible.



Back at the guest house I met people from all over the world and I had dinner and drinks with two Japanese women traveling together and a Japanese guy traveling alone. It was really interesting chatting to them, the guy has traveled to over 70 countries, it’s quite incredible. It’s been great learning about other people and that’s exactly what I want out of this trip – to do new things and meet lots of people, I’m off to a good start!

Monday, December 29, 2008

29th Dec - It's Really Happening!

Greetings from Sri Lanka! – I can’t believe I’m here!

* A quick and temporary note – I’m not bailing out of my commitment to keep a video blog, only to do that, the least I need is a computer with a USB port on it and so far I havn’t found one! However I have a few videos reading and waiting, so just keep posted for when they go up *


Firstly I had a really good and un expected send off from friends and family back in Essex. A note to anyone traveling, don’t leave packing to the last minute and even more importantly don’t spend the day and night down the pub with mates if you are leaving at 4 am the next morning! All good though!

Well I had a pretty un-eventful flight on Sri Lankan Airlines. The entertainment consisted of a lot of Indian/ Sri Lankan drama and a hand full of really crap games – not greatly impressed, but at least I had plenty of time to read Rough Guide to Sri Lanka which gave me a really good insight into things before I got here, considering I don’t really know anything about the place. The food was really good though, choices of chicken curry, prawn curry, beef curry or vegetable curry… good job I like curry!

Once i had landed it was all a little slow getting through security and passport control, it took about an hour to get through even before I collected my luggage. Luckily the driver I booked was still waiting. Even at 3 in the morning it was about 28 Degrees! The route from the Airport to the Hotel was eventful, there were constant road blocks and checkpoints, we went through about 12 in an hour and a half. They were looking for bombs apparently, there have been a number of suicide bombs here over the last few years on public transport, including one the day before I got here on a bus traveling on the road we were traveling on! So it was a little daunting to say the least and opened my eyes a little to the reality of the situation. Having said that I can’t say I’m worried about it, but that may have subconsciously help my decision to get a private driver for the drip instead of public transport ha ha… I’ll come onto that a little later.



The first morning I woke up to company in my room… in the form of a Gecko! I guess when there are lizards running around the walls in your bedroom, it’s a pretty good indication your out of the UK. I let it get on with what it was doing, didn’t want to touch it. I got a couple of hours sleep and headed down for breakfast, that consisted of….. wait for it…. Curry…. Yes for breakfast! When in Rome…. (and it was pretty good)


As soon as I could I had to get out and check out the beach, I can virtually see it from my guesthouse. Its so hot, about 35/40 Degrees, that basically means im going to burn as I always do! There were a few locals walking up and down, some fishing, some just wondering. My instinctive reaction if they approach is that the want something and sometimes they did, however I tried to give them the benefit of doubt and listen. By doing that I learned a lot about this area and something I didn’t notice while walking are many broken and half destroyed houses, all devastated by the Tsunami. They are still re building here and trying to make a living from fishing. From the aid they were bought new boats but it seems there was a lack of investment in housing.

One guy I came across showed me a quicker way to the next beach, that meant going on the rail way track and of course as soon as we did a train came and it was a fairly close encounter! The same guy then offered to climb a coconut tree and get one down, obviously I couldn’t turn down that experience so he climbed up and we shared in his effort after by drinking it, which was really tasty.



The beach is amazing, which you will see from the photos. After lunch I was offered to go on a snorkeling trip, it’s something I definitely wanted to do and I couldn’t believe how cheap it was, about 10 quid for 3 hours, including boat and kit. So i went out Snorkeling with these guys, who did it for a living and could dive do far down it was stupid. It was a good laugh and I had a few beers with them after.



So now is the end of my first day, it seems like I have done so much already! I don’t think I’ll get to write as much as this in the future, we will have to see how it goes.

I have decided to get a private driver for the rest of my trip so I get the chance to see and do as much as I can without the hassle (or potential dangers) from public transport. Its not a bad rate at all, about 20 quid a day, and basically they take you from place to place, wait for you to do what ever you want to do and take you to the next! Sorted!

So as of tomorrow morning i'm heading off and I think my first stop will be Kandy.

I’ll get those videos up as soon as possible!

Until then …

Friday, December 26, 2008

Expectations – It’s best not to have any!

Having known a number of people who have been travelling and many that currently are i have heard so many stories about places they have been to and things they have done, some of which i may be doing too. But i don’t take things for granted, whether its an opinion about a film or where someone has been or what they have done, i’ll wait until i have experienced it before i make any judgement. Everyone’s opinions are their own after all! I think expectations will only lead to potential disappointment, so i intend to keep an open mind and take every experience as it comes.


There is only so much planning you can do, too much could ruin your trip, after all travelling is largely about going where the wind will take you and you cant do that if you have fixed plans on where your going and what you will be doing. I have plenty of ideas about what i’d like to see and do in the different countries and it will be great if i get to do some of those things, but i also look forward to finding out from other people about places to go and things to do along the way.

The furthest i have got (apart from booking all the flights) is booking my first couple of nights in Sri Lanka, with an airport pick up, then, as it is New Year very soon i have decided to do something a little different and make it a memorable one, so i’m going to be seeing the new year in from the top of a famous mountain in Sri Lanka ( Called Sri Pada ) – that’s about as random as your gonna get and i’m looking forward to that one! From there onwards the whole trip is pretty well unknown apart from the dates of my flights, it’s just a case of squeezing everything in!

Its slowly sinking in now, the reality that i will be leaving in a couple of days. I don’t really feel nervous or as excited as i probably should be at the moment, maybe its still all a little surreal. Perhaps it will hit home when i’m on the plane. I’m gonna give it a go at doing a quick pre departure video blog on the morning i leave, maybe then i will work out how i’m feeling about it all! Until then . . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Leading up to departure...

Well there are a million things i could talk about, we'll start with the first few things i can think of... so first and foremost its only 9 days until I’m actually on the plane and jetting off to the first destination! To be honest its not until i get on the plane to Sri Lanka its all going to kick in and i actually feel I’m jetting off to warmer climates!

I wouldn’t say i’m a non experienced traveller, through University, Holidays and Work i have been fortunate enough to make it to a number of fascinating places, including Europe, China and the US. However these trips were only a few weeks at any one time, not a few months lie this one. I’m quite aware that ‘holidaying’ and 'travelling' are somewhat different, I’ll be frequently moving around, from guest house to hostel and my life will consist of what ever i can squeeze into my bag. Finding a bag that was practical and comfortable was somethig i wanted to get right, after all i’ll be moving around a fair amount of the time. By doing a little research all the information is only a click away and i came across a bag that ticked all the boxes.

I bought a Geonaute bag that's both a backpack (60Litres) and is a drag bag with wheels - in one. It seems great at the moment, only time will tell if it does its job. It also has a 10 Litre day pack which zips and straps onto the front. I've got the black version which looks pretty good; got it for about £70!

As I’m planning on taking a video camera (and keeping the renowned video blog) the first thing I think of is security, not if I’m going to drop it or break it but if it gets nicked. So I’ve invested in a security cable (about £10), its a lockable retractable cord. So this thing is an additional security feature which will allow me to secure my baggage, cameras or anything else to something solid (i.e. beds, luggage racks, sun beds on the beach etc) its just more peace of mind when your travelling on your own and you can’t keep a constant eye on your stuff! Seems great in theory, we will see how it goes!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Video Blog Test

Now for a little Video Testing ... Well this is what its all going to be about, so there is nothing fancy or interesting involved with this, it’s just to check a few things. Firstly that the video camera works, secondly the video file uploads on here ok and most importantly to test camera works under water ... lastly i want to make sure the download option underneath the video works as by downloading the video the image quality and size will be loads better!


The video works, i have to say its a little weird talking to a camera (i'm used to working behind one!) but in the long run that'll be a big part of this blog; filling you in about the things i'm doing and places I’m going to. Its a shame you can't change the holding frame of the video.

The upload of the video took about 10 minutes for every 1 minute of video. That was on a fairly good internet connection so i would expect it to take a fair bit longer where the internet service is not as good. The file its self was recorded @ 640x480 & 60fps (the best quality for this cam). The file size was about 50 MB saved directly to SDHC Card, so no need for tapes, i just upload directly to the comp via USB stick, nice and easy!

The download time was really quick. The image quality isn't amazing in low light conditions, but outside and under water it’ll be great! Lets hope the rest of the video blogs will be a little more interesting!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Video Blogging - The Reality !

Well if your keeping track of this blog chronologically (which is definitely advised!) you will know that I work in video production and that’s the reason i am keen to create a video blog opposed to only a written one. I had really high expectations early on about what I thought i could do and achieve while I’m away, from actually editing the videos into little films through to high quality output. However I was sharply brought back down to earth when I started to work on the practicalities of it all, most of which I have come to realise are not possible or practical while i’m on the move and will no doubt not have hours and hours to upload the videos.

But difficulties aside, it isn’t going to deter me. Ok, so I won't be able to edit my videos into neat little films, meaning what you see is what you will get! They will be raw video, in a reasonable resolution, but that’s the balance i have to get if i can realistically keep a video blog!

I will be able to stitch clips together and that’s about it, it’s a case of making the most out of it. I'll be uploading the videos onto an online file storage server and streaming them directly from there. To be honest it’s definitely going to be better to download them and watch them from the download option below; they will be bigger and better quality and size.

When it comes to the filming, i want to capture as much as possible and getting opinions from as many other people as i can too. Nothing can be planned out so i’ll just see what happens and go with the flow.

I'm filming everything on the little bad boy you see above (Sanyo CA8) I’m going to be filming in 4:3 (square) opposed to 16:9 (widescreen) and the reason is this camera can only film in 4:3 (which does suck) ... However that is a sacrifice I’m going to make because it’s one of the only video cameras on the market that’s Fully Waterproof! (Up to 5ft) this sold it to me considering what I’m doing and where I’m going! So next is phase 2 ... Testing the camera out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

About the Adventure . . .

Now I’ve made the blog the next step is to test it all out and get to grips with the 'posting/blogging' issue before I head off, so here we go. . .

I'm all booked up, and with a few last minute alterations to my itinerary I’m all sorted!


28th Dec - UK, Heathrow to Sri Lanka
8th Jan - Sri Lanka to Singapore
13th Jan - Singapore to Oz, Sydney
27th Feb - Oz, Cairns to NZ, Auckland
14th Apr - NZ, Auckland to L.A
15th Apr - L.A back to UK!

I have wanted to travel for as long as i can remember, see the world and meet new people, that has always seemed so exciting to me. People all around me either have travelled, are travelling or will be and so i had to make the decision to do it sooner rather than later. A decision made a little more difficult due to owning a video production company with two other guys (Pro-Mo Media) and we have worked extremely hard over the last year and a half since graduating from university getting it to where it is now. But i’m not going for a huge amount of time so it should be enough to get the taste of travelling and when i get back i’ll get back into the work i enjoy a great deal.

Roughly over the last 5 months my trip has evolved from a month travelling up the east coast of Australia to 3 and a half months doing a mini world trip. I figure if I’m gong all that way around the world, i may as well make it a worthwhile period. I’ll always want more but i’m more than happy with that.


As i mentioned I was only intending on going to Oz, then hop over to NZ. The flight I was booked on going to Oz had a compulsory flight change in Sri Lanka and another in Singapore. At the time it meant I was going to be hanging around for hours and hours waiting for my connections. Basically I started researching into Sri Lanka (to be honest I didn't really know anything about the country, only where it was!)

The more I researched, the more interested I became and discovered there are so many amazing and interesting things to see and do there. So the possibility of visiting there became more real, and to persuade me even further the flights through STA allowed me to stay in the country as long as I liked with no extra cost to the flights, so I gave them my dates and the rest is history, I’m now going to be adventuring around Sri Lanka and the same for Singapore! Admittedly the more I discover about the place the longer I want to stay there, but 10 days should give me a good taster!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Intro . . .

Well this is the start of it all, not knowing what to expect, fulfilling things i have waited to do for a long time and embarking on an ever approaching adventure around the world. Memories are a great thing, so documenting those experiences will help to share them with everyone and bring them back to life later down the line when i look back on it all. So i’m going to join the blogging world and as you can see i have created this so i can keep everyone up to date with what i’m doing.

For me the thought of writing and writing.... and writing doesn’t appeal to me a great deal, i don’t mind doing it to an extent but i’m going to push the boat out a little and attempt to keep a VIDEO BLOG. The main reason behind that is i do video production for a living, so keeping the camera handy and capturing the moment should come naturally, i don't however do anything infront of the camera so thats the bit that will take some getting used to. I will still write about things and upload as many photos as possible, but the key element of this blog will be the raw video side of it, you will almost be there with me, experiencing the things i do and seeing the things i see!

My theory is: seeing what I’m up to will be a whole lot better than just reading what I’m up to, for you and me both! That way you’re not only going to be able to see what i’m doing and what i think but i’ll get other people involved along the way, getting them to share their experiences too. The reality of keeping this updated might not be as productive as I hope, i admit it’s a little ambitious, not just technologically but it’ll need a fair bit of time and dedication to keep it going, something i might not get as much of as i would like. Whatever the case, I’ll give it a good go!