A trip to Sigiriya and Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela
6am. Fall. Pettah.
Travelling to Sigiriya became an amazing experience than we ever imagined it to be. At 6 one November morning, we were at Pettah, stomaching two fish buns for brekkie and sipping two cups of Nescafe from a small kade. As we walked to the bus stand, Zin became the clumsy old Zin, spilling Nescafe all over her clothes. Ten minutes later, we were in a TATA bus to Sigiriya, settling down for a five hours long journey. Amid the bus songs (contemporary Sri Lankan music) which reminded us of a late night kottu kade from distance, we still loved our bus ride. There’s something beautiful about early morning bus rides. Something fascinating when skies are gloomy and cold fresh air embrace your body as the bus passes through tiny kades and jungalows with so much beauty. You keep gazing at pink bougainvillea bordering tiny houses and think of your childhood bus rides with ma. You think of coming to Colombo for the first time at ‘99. You were just five and dada bought you ice-cream sweetened with saccharin and coloured in bold reds. You pass through small kades with kitul jaggery and aunties who sell corn (on the cob) to make a living. Your mind wanders. Your whole life flashes in front of you in one beautiful picture. A picture, so chaotic, a mess but beautiful as you sit next to your soulmate who’s watching his 3rd episode of ‘x’ TV show this morning.
Somewhere in Galewela, bus stops for tea. After fifteen minutes, it starts the journey again. At eleven, we are in Dambulla. Forty minutes later after getting into a jam packed bus with locals and tourists, and passing through Ceylon’s most beautiful veggie farms and shrublands, we get down at Sigiriya. Hold on, now, that’s already three bus rides, six hours and we’ve not yet reached our destination. At the Sigiriya junction, we catch a tuk. After driving 8km through mini jungles, shrublands with creatures we cannot name and brinjal farms, we come to our destination, Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela.
Back of Beyond has two properties in Sigiriya, One, Pidurangala and the other, Dehigaha Ela. Dehigaha Ela is our kind of place. (Also read: Back of Beyond Pidurangala.) With three amazing tree houses and boulder cottages across the property and a small river-stream named “Dehigaha Ela” bordering one side of the property, we couldn’t name a better place to relax.
Also read: Hike to Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya
Monkeys, wee birds, alligators and barks own this property and surely not you. So love them and cherish them while you are here. As soon as we entered, one uncle greeted us with a glass of lime juice. It sure is the best lime juice we’ve ever had in Sri Lanka. Freshly plucked village lime squeezed into one big glass. There are two uncles who work in the Dehigaha Ela property and we love them both. They cook such amazing local food with fresh ingredients from the villages in Sigiriya.
We stayed in a beautiful tree house, the last one in one corner of the property, with so much space to relax and sleeps for four. The showers are open to the outside jungle. You are completely naked and in an open air washroom. Gazing to the wild in complete silence until a tiny mongoose does a peek-a-boo. If showering in open air chic washroom isn’t enough, here’s a lunch spread with rice and many curries made with fresh local ingredients. Dehigaha Ela turns into a natural pool here. And soon after our lunch, we head for a fish spa, letting little sucker fishes kiss our feet for the millionth time.
Zin cackles as the tiny suckers tickle her while Nathan tries to take one funny photo. The nearest ATM is 12km away from the property. And it’s 40 minutes to the nearest supermarket. At evening, we meet Kasun. The manager of BoB Dehigaha Ela. Nathan chats with him for hours until we both decided to cycle. We race away until it sucks into our bones and tell, it’s enough, kids!
You can’t make a telephone call here. You can’t browse internet. The WiFi doesn’t work. You are out of the range. You are out of the (digital) civilization. You can’t browse Facebook to be jealous of your uncle’s daughter’s friend’s wedding. You can’t be jealous of the saree she wore for fifty some thousand. You can’t see it. Not the fat shaming, nor the skinny shaming on the internet. You can’t get into pointless arguments where one uses slang to win a battle on Twitter.
You can swing in a hammock here reading Tiny Beautiful Things. You can climb to their amazing tree house “Kon 2.” Climbing their itself is a little adventure. You can gaze at beautiful nothingness. You can sing along with wee birds and goof around with monkeys. You can let little suckers kiss your feet while you cackle endlessly. You can talk with the staff and hear amazing village stories. You can eat imbul kiribath for breakfast and sip lime juice at four in the evening. You can snuggle up in a blanket without AC. Nature itself is an air coolant here. You can read. Laugh. And cry in a jungle.
There’s so much to life beyond the internet. There’s love here. There’s peace. Serene. And happiness.
We would like to thank Back of Beyond Sri Lanka for organizing our stay with them, but as always opinions are honest and entirely our own.