From North to South, Sri Lanka, Madurai, and beyond

This morning I woke up in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, and I finally went to pick up my new Indian visa.  Since being in Sri Lanka, I have visited the Indian Consulate and Visa Center 12, yes TWELVE times.   Why did I need a new visa?  Because I lost my passport which had my old one in it.   A seasoned traveler once said “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.”  But I am not complaining…

…In the last 5 weeks I have been on 6 islands in two countries and have swam in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Laccadive Sea.

I celebrated New Years while on a 46 hour train ride from Northern India to Southern India.  We passed fields of cotton, rice, and sugarcane, banana plantations, kids playing cricket in dusty dirt fields and nuclear power plants.

On the first day of 2014, I watched the sun rise as I drove Bala towards the Island of Rameshwaran in Southern India

I tried to make friends with the cows in the old Danish fort in Jaffna, Nothern Sri Lanka.  I did not succeed.


Magdalena next to the Lake in Kandy, Central Sri Lanka
Magdalena next to the Lake in Kandy, Central Sri Lanka

Seven months ago I spent some days exploring the Tibetan region of China by motorcycle with a Swiss girl named Magdalena.  We reconnected in Sri Lanka to resume our mutual desire to conquer the world, two wheels at a time.

We rented a scooter we named Joggeli (Swiss-German for ‘Little Idiot’…pronounced Yogalee) in the Hill country of Sri Lanka (Bala, who is waiting for me back in India, doesn’t know this and I would like to keep it this way so Sssshhhh!!!).  We drove him 500k (315 miles), often on horrendous (= adventurous) roads past beautiful hills and mountains, endless plantations of tea, and lots of smiling Sri Lankans.

With Sweet Lime on the island of Karainagar
With Sweet Lime on the island of Karainagar

We rented a scooter we named Sweet Lime and drove her 200k (125 miles) through the Northern region of Sri Lanka past coconut palms, deserted coastline, wild peacocks, hindu temples, and…. lots of smiling Sri Lankans

I spent 4 days in a fishing village almost devoid of foreigners where I stumbled across a Hindu wedding ceremony at a temple that sat right next to the sea

Temple next to the sea in Trincomalee, Eastern Sri Lanka
Temple next to the sea in Trincomalee, Eastern Sri Lanka

I celebrated my birthday in a small town in the Sri Lankan Hill Country with some rare treats (rare at least on the Indian Subcontinent)…A bottle of red wine, some Swiss cheese (imported by Magdalena), some Spanish olives, bread, and in lieu of Italian Salami which evaded us…a can of mackerel.  And of course candles and cake.

I searched for the casino that my great-uncle owned in Colombo, back in the 1970’s  I found a vacant lot

I drove Bala across the Indian Ocean.

Bala on a one kilometer long bridge across the Indian Ocean to the island of Ramashwaran
Bala on a one kilometer long bridge across the Indian Ocean to the island of Ramashwaran

I drove through the Indian Ocean on a bus.  Don’t believe me…check it out:

I crossed the Andaman Sea on Sweet Lime 3 times by bridge and once by boat.

Abandoned house, island of Karainager, Northern Sri Lanka
Abandoned house, island of Karainager, Northern Sri Lanka

For the first time in my travels I explored part of a country that is recovering from a recent war.  Four years ago Northern Sri Lanka was a war zone…sadly it is still quite evident.  Military presence is everywhere, certain areas are still off-limits and while driving through the islands I saw countless (literally about one in four) houses that were either abandoned, bombed out, or both.

I ate LOTS of mangos

Completely captivated and hypnotized by the sounds of chanting, the sights of bare chested Hindu pilgrims sprawled out in prayer on the floor, and by the smells of burning incense, I wandered barefoot through the 400 year old Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai

With Kingsly in Madurai
With Kingsly in Madurai

I made my first new friend in the South of India, Kingsly, who helped me with all sorts of things and was nice enough to give Bala a safe home while I went off to Sri Lanka

I paid a whopping $25 entrance fee to get into the “The Worlds End” national park in central Sri Lanka.  The main attraction is a cliff that drops over 1000 meters straight down and offers views all the way to the ocean 100 kilometers away.  This was my view looking straight down towards the 1000 meter drop:


This was my view looking west towards the Indian Ocean:


While lost in the Hill Country in Sri Lanka I stumbled across a tea plantation and got a full tour of how the tea is processed.

I was surprised by how developed Sri Lanka is, where I went to my first real supermarket in months, where the streets are clean, and where people actually follow the traffic laws.  I missed India, where life, at its most raw and gritty, is thrown in your face with a “like it or not” attitude.  Lucky for me I seem to like it.  🙂

I missed Bala

Tomorrow I get on a plane and return to Incredible India, to Madurai, and to Bala.  There we will begin the next big leg of our journey, from South to North.

To see more pictures and stories from this leg of the trip you can CLICK HERE


7 thoughts on “From North to South, Sri Lanka, Madurai, and beyond

  1. Jordan thanks for getting this out, let us know when you are back on the road with Bala. Love from home. ps i am going to give this to a friend Molly Wardell she would like to be included in your postings, i am forwarding this one on to her. your looking good and healthy. Dad

  2. Jordan, I followed your journey from Lakshadweep
    to Rameshwaram and over the Adam’s Bridge ( I’m assuming here) into the Jaffna Peninsula and beyond into Colombo, Kandy as well as a place or two I was unable to locate on either my map of of Southern India and Sri Lanka with great interest and equal envy. You are a beautiful writer and photographer! You make everything come to life! Well done and Bravo! Thank you for including me in your travel blog and please keep them coming. I’m interested to know that Sri Lanka is so different from India. Tilak was from Colombo and he loved his country very passionately. Those tea plantations must really be something. I’ve always wanted to see some, or even one! Have you been to either Jaipur or Udaipur yet? I’d be so interested to know what you thought of each. One thing is for certain, Rajasthan is much, much different than Southern India. Enjoy and stay safe. I love you and eagerly await your next update!!
    😘😘😘, Aunt Deborah.

    Sent from a mobile device. Please excuse typos.

    1. Namaste 🙂 So cool to know you are taking the time to check out the places I have been! Yes, the last weeks were great. Back in India now, in a small hilltown called Ooty. Must say Im very happy to be back in India. Now being here and looking back on Sri Lanka days I can say for sure that Sri Lanka is very nice…a nice place for a vacation, but India is WAY more interesting. Sri Lanka seems boring after India. But like I said, it was a perfect and welcomed “vacation” from my travels. Havent been to Rajastan yet, not sure I will spend much time there. I dont think I will have time. That coupled with the fact I have heard that it is very nice but also very touristy. Glad you are digging the posts. I will keep them coming. Love you 🙂

  3. PS Did you see any Sea Pencils in the Laccadive Islands or on the coral reefs off the coast of Sri Lanka??

    Sent from a mobile device. Please excuse typos.

    1. Hello! No, I didnt do any diving or snorkeling actually, was going to go diving but it was a bit out of my budget and not the best time of year for it. Did I miss out bigtime on Sea Pencils? You were there? Hope all is well in California 🙂

  4. hello sir!
    i have been following your blog since 4 months. I just love the way you love my country.
    I am a 19 year old student who loves travelling and i wish to travel like you someday.
    Thank you

    1. Thanks Siddhant! Nice to know I have a fan out there. And yes, India will always be a favorite for me. Hope you get out on the travel trail soon. All the best,


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