Adam’s Peak Pilgrimage: 5,550 steps of adventure

Getting there:

I booked Sri Lankan Airlines from Kochi. When I booked the ticket, they have that option where you can bid for an upgrade. At the time I was still in fulll-swing job mode with salary…I bid the least amount of $60. Totally forgot I did that, and turns out I got upgraded. $60 is my total daily budget now, so really unnecessary. The guys at the business class counter were quite amused at my hippie look and backpack flare when I checked in!

From the airport, I called the hostel to ask which bus stop to get off at. He was super friendly, and when I told him I was still in Kerala, he asked me to buy him two bottles of whiskey from Duty Free. For sure dude, I got you!

SIM cards and mobile plans in Sri Lanka are bombbbb. 500 rupee / $3.50 for 2G PER DAY FOR 30 DAYS. I paid 100 dirhams ($27) per month in Dubai for 2G over 30 days. Plus it’s nice to have data when traveling solo and not really knowing what you’re doing or where you’re going (#parentsworstnightmare, sorry mama and Daddyo!)

From Colombo airport I took bus 187 to Colombo fort. Swear I read it was free, but it’s 130 rupees. That’s $0.83, so yeah basically free but do make sure you have small bills on you!

The bus ride from Colombo Fort to Adam’s Peak: WHOA. Adventure in itself. I walked around the bus station for about 30 minutes trying to find the bus to Hatton, there were so many buses and men yelling one thing or another. Finally I found someone who could sell me a ticket and show me to the right bus. The bus was overflowing with people. Luckily, Sri Lankans are so friendly they helped me with my bags, let me have a seat, and I kicked back to observe it all. The bus flies through the twisty and turny roads, they play great local music, and people are just everywhere on the bus. It felt like 125 degrees, I was dripping sweat (yeah gross but it’s island life what can I say). Overall it took about 5 hours, with a very nice…and by nice i mean cultural, which is nice to me, midway stop for food at shop on the side of the road. The bus ticket all the way to Adam’s Peak was 280 rupees ($1.80!)

The Hike

Adam’s Peak (known to the Sri Lankans as the mountain Sri Pada): Near the summit lies a rock formation in the shape of a footprint. For Buddhists it represents the buddha’s footprint. Hindus regard it as Shiva’s. In the Muslim and Christian world it is Adam’s (YES, Muslims and Christians believe in some of the same things, omg).

This was such a unique trek! The way to do it is to hike up in the early morning before sunrise, and watch the sunrise from the top. So after arriving to my hostel the base around 130am, I slept for 1.5 hours, and started my trek around 335 AM. It was pitch black outside, with some overhead lights on above the trail. A few shops along the trail were also open. There were a number of other people making the climb as well, although not as many as I had thought after what I’d read. I started a bit later than most people do. 1) I was so tired and I didn’t want to wake up. 2) I knew I could push myself to do the climb quicker than the norm, I read it took 2.5-4 hours, so I was like yeah I can do it in 2. 3) It’s really cold at the top, and I didn’t want to just be sitting up there in the dark waiting for sunrise. When I started, I noticed two guys a bit in front of me who took off a bit quicker than I was going. I tried to keep up with them, but they had some damn long legs, and I was dying trying to keep up! It was beautiful and incredibly peaceful hiking in the dark. I was able to see the lights all the way at the top of the peak, and as I made my way up down in the town. I had to stop a couple times for a quick break, but overall I pushed and kept climbing up and up! The other people around me making the hike was an experience in its own. Lots of elderly, people over 70 for sure. Mostly Hindu and Buddhists doing the pilgrimage. At one point I stopped to take a breath, and an old old lady who was walking down (either she didn’t make it to the top or got too cold to wait for sunrise) but she looked at me while I was stopped and yelled “c’mon girl get a move on!” My competitive spirit clicked right back in, I smiled and laughed with her, then took off booking it up again. Thanks old lady for the pep talk!

About 20 minutes from the top, the sky started getting lighter, this was my favorite part, because you could start to see the mountain views in a serene light. 1 hour and 55 mins later, I reached the peak!!! It was packed, as I expected, and cold, as expected…I sat down on the stairs to settle in for sunrise. Remember the two dudes I saw at the beginning? Well they were right in front of me, and they kind of laughed when they say me and said ” hey you’re the girl we were racing with!” so apparently they spotted me too, and made it their goal to beat me, which they did, but turns out only by 10 minutes!

Back to those views…watching the sunrise was incredible, the views were killer. I walked around at the top for a while, paid tribute to the “footprint” – which is now just a big gold platted footprint, because there is so much money and little gifts that people place over the actual footprint, it hasn’t been uncovered in over 20 years.

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The walk down was really enjoyable. My new friends (yes the dudes): Feras and Leandre, walked down with me. We took it easy making lots of stops along the way, since it was light out now and there were many scenic views, buddhas, temples, snacks, etc. The guys are French, but live on Reunion Island, a French occupied island, right off the coast of Madagascar, near Seychelles and Mauritius. I first learned of this island on my sabbatical this summer, so I was really intrigued about their life there. Turns out they’re finishing their residencies in critical care and anesthesiology.

IMG_4415We grabbed breakkie at a little café at the base, then I went back to my little Hostel, White House Adam’s Peak, took a much needed shower (keep in mind at this point I’m at a sweaty, sweaty bus ride and the hike combo) then I crashed hard. There was a little thunderstorm too, which made it super sweet, I haven’t seen rain in a long time. I only slept for an hour, but that hour felt like 20. After the much needed rest, I went and hung out with the owner of the hostel, gave him his whiskey, and we chatted for a while. Feras and Leandre met up with me, and we ventured out I a tuk tuk together for the next adventure: camping at a waterfall!

We drove 2 hours, and were close to the campsite, but our driver had no clue where he was going. I got a little stressed, Feras and Leandre were super chill, no worries at all, laughing at me and trying to help navigate. I had to ask to stop and get out of the tuk tuk for 5 mins to calm down a little bit, haha. Leandre had a fun game on his phone where we matched flags to countries, that kept us occupied for a really long time and now I’m kind of addicted to the game and knowing every countries flag. Then, we finally we reached, and omg. This campsite it run by an amazing couple: Susi and Mona. Susi told me he already knew we were “like minded” when I called him on the way in, and beceause of the rain, he put the 3 of us in the treehouse loft. This place was amazing!!! It was an open air treehouse, right on top of the waterfall. We grabbed 3 beers and just sat and talked through the night. They brought us a delicious Sri Lankan dinner up to our loft, and the electricity went out so we had a super cute romantic candlelight dinner, with candles we stuck into our beer bottles. Loved it. I only met these guys in the morning, but they felt like best friends by dinner time. We are really like-minded and got along so easily. Their English was pretty good, but it we had some good laughs at translation issues when either they didn’t know English words or I misunderstood their accents: for example, hungry and hangry.

In the morning, I woke up early and went wandering around. Susi met up with me and took me on a little nature walk. This nature walk included a little cliff jumping (if you know the Lebanon story…yes, I jumped again, but this one was seriously safe – only about 10 meters high this time, not a suicidal cliff). Then we sat on the rocks and had a little wake & bake 😉 😉 (mom, dad, just skip over this part, and if you don’t know what that is, please don’t google it). Feras and Leandre joined me as well, and we moved slowly slowly through the morning, with a great breakfast and chill time. Then we went on a hike up the stream. It was quite a fun hike, lots of bouldering and climbing. A bit slippery, I bit it once and fell on my butt, don’t think the guys even saw that so I played it totally cool, haha.

We took an afternoon bus up north, I parted ways with my new besties and went to a little village outside of Kandy for a night of R&R.

All in all, it felt amazing to be out in one of my favorite elements: outdoors and hiking. But what made this trek most memorable was the cultural experience along the way.

My Quick Religion Rant

*Many of you have had this rant with me over a bottle of wine I’m sure 🙂 

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How is it that this place of spiritual symbolism exists in 4 major religions, all of which at the same time look at the other and say they’re wrong? How is it that one place can represent a footprint of Buddha (not a god), Shiva (one of many gods), and Adam (who both Christians and Muslims see was the first human on earth) – yet people of these religions can end up truly hating one another, based on the pure fact that they believe differently or that their god/belief is the only right one. Hate is an extreme that is too prominent in society, and although not everyone hates those of other religions or beliefs, there’s still so much disagreement and war over the matter. I don’t understand this mindset of one way is the right way, only way. Seeing Adam’s Peak, the people all there together, hearing what they believe, how they worship, it all comes from where and how they grew up. And there’s beauty in all of it, but there’s also the hate. While many people find it crazy that other’s don’t believe in their way, or their god, or their religion, I find it crazy that we are all sitting here telling someone else that they are wrong. We should listen more, be okay with disagreeing, and focus more on a spiritual mind than one specific religion. God, nature, energy, and science all work together in a way that’s not understandable by the human mind, yet here we all are trying so hard to understand it all, scared of others who don’t agree.

6 thoughts on “Adam’s Peak Pilgrimage: 5,550 steps of adventure

  1. Alyson, loved reading your post this morning. The pictures are great and glad you are having such a nice trip. Keep the post coming. Love you. Pam

    Liked by 1 person

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