Father and Daughter making there way through Talaimannar on bull-drawn carriage!

Father and Daughter making there way through Talaimannar on bull-drawn carriage!

Despite being advised not to take the coast road from Jaffna to Mannar, we did and as soon as we left Jaffna behind we regretted our decision. Little more than a two lane dirt-track, there was no road surface of any kind and the red dust billowed in the windows non-stop for the slow six hour journey. Hitting bumps that often had us and the other passengers two feet high off our seats we just held on laughing for most of the journey, there was no turning back and not much else we could do. Being the only foreigners on the bus, all eyes were on us to see how we were coping with the rocky ride and every where we looked smiles were flashed back at us by young and old. Along the barren road we passed a few small communities but for the most part it was military bases which lined the way and from the bus we could see soldiers taking part in marching drills and other training. Stopping the bus at various checkpoints, they got on-board once to do a bag spot check but left us be, it seems that even though the war is over the government keeps a strong presence in this area regardless.

Fishing boat, Talaimannar

Fishing boat, Talaimannar

A thick film of dust covered our bags by the time we pulled them out of the storage area in the back of the bus and we were worn out after the helter skelter spin to get here but we had made it. We immediately started walking in the direction of our guest-house, delighted with the opportunity to stretch our legs. Similar to our experience in Jaffna, we immediately felt a relaxed, genuine, local vibe here and nothing was ‘put on’ for tourists. Flying by on motorbikes and in the back of vans everyone waved at us as we lugged our packs up the road. Unusually, we saw a lot of donkeys, not native to Sri Lanka, around the roads and in the bus station and later learned that they had been brought by Arab traders many years ago.

Donkeys stroll around this town like they own the place, originally brought to Mannar by Arab Traders.

Donkeys stroll around this town like they own the place, originally brought to Mannar by Arab Traders.

The peninsula which juts out into the Palk Strait is primarily Muslim with some Hindus and Christians living here also. At the tip of the peninsula is where India and Sri Lanka are closest, separated by ony thirty kilometres of water. Having already visited the same point in India at Rameswarem, reaching the small fishing village of Talaimannar at the peninsulas edge, where ferry services used to run between the two countries up until 1964 but since suspended, was our principal reason for coming here.

Talaimannar Lighthouse, built by the British in 1915, now left idle.

Talaimannar Lighthouse, built by the British in 1915, now left idle.

Talaimannar was an hour bus journey from Mannar town passing through quite a desert like landscape along the way with only a few trees to break up the views as well as a few small communities living in traditional style homes with palm tree roofs and mud-clay walls. Hit hard by the war in Sri Lanka, evidence of the damage was everywhere as we got closer to Talaimannar. As soon as the bus stopped a short walk took us to the end of the peninsula and we were blown away. A strip of white sand separates the land from the turqoise blue waters, colourful boats glisten in the strong sun and weather beaten fishermen work hard gathering fish from their nets, gutting some of their catch or repairing their nets in teams. Everyone was excited to see us coming along the beach and even some of the older fishermen beckoned us over to take their picture, laughing when they saw

Sorting through the mornings catch, Talaimannar

Sorting through the mornings catch.

themselves on the screen. An abandoned lighthouse at one end of the beach used to guide boats passing through the Palk Strait but today it just stands there overlooking the fishermen going about their day. There is a heavy navy presence here, with gunboats moored just offshore and a soldier standing guard at the edge of the rusting pier which before the war served passenger ferries and cargo ships between neighbouring India and Sri Lanka. Now ruined and in complete disrepair the pier and the nearby abandoned railway station serve as a stark reminder to the devastation this area went through but with that said, it’s the people of Mannar and Talaimanar that make a visit to this very much unvisited place more than worthwhile as they bring a refreshing sense of reality to a country where in other parts is becoming over run by the greed which the tourism trade can bring.

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Brian Barry
Brian is a travel writer, photographer, blogger, travel addict and adventure junkie. Being outdoors, getting off the beaten track and outside his comfort zone is what makes him tick. Brian's the dreamer in the relationship; when he's not travelling, he's dreaming about it! Keeping fit, cooking, music and red wine take up the rest of his time.
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wanderingon37.6K followers☘ Irish Travel Couple - Brian & Noelle 🌍 Nomadic for 10+ years 🏞️ Hiking, Adventure & Inspiration ✈ Independent Travel 📍Edinburgh 👇🏻Travel Tips & Blog
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\"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.\"⁠ — Nelson Mandela⁠ ⁠ \"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.\"⁠ — Martin Luther King Jr.⁠ ⁠ “Never look down on anybody unless you\'re helping him up.”⁠ — Jesse Jackson⁠ ⁠➳⁠ 📷 Views from the first floor of the Hagia Sophia Museum looking towards The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey 🇹🇷⁠ ➳⁠ We understand that being white and therefore, inherently privileged, we can never truly understand this struggle, however, we completely stand with the movement and the idea that all human beings everywhere in the world should be treated equally and have the same chances and opportunities in life.⁠ ⁠➳ Unfortunately, this isn\'t the case and the thought that someone can be treated differently simply because of the colour of their skin absolutely breaks our hearts.💔⁠ ⁠➳ In our privileged position, we need to learn about and educate ourselves about these issues in every way we can and do our best to change the views of those around us.⁠ ⁠➳ To quote another great changemaker, Mahatma Gandhi, you need to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ⁠ It starts with you, to move in the world with love and respect for all.⁠ ❤️✨✌ #BlackLivesMatter⁠
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“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” —Dr. Seuss » Brian standing in absolute awe at the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza!🗿🇲🇽 » Built by the Mayans sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries, Chichen Itza is a huge complex of Mayan ruins located on the northern half of Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.🗿🇲🇽 The complex is an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. » Built from limestone, El Castillo stands at a height of 30m including a 6m temple on top. Each of the pyramid\'s four sides has 91 steps up it, making 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an additional step totalling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar.📆 El Castillo is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan as it served as a temple to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan, or Quetzalcoatl.🐍 » We visited this time last year, however, the spring and autumn equinoxes are the best days to visit to see the “descent of Kukulkan\".🐍 » According to legend, twice a year when the day and night are in balance 🌗, the pyramid is visited by its namesake Kukulkan.🐍 Thanks to the crafty and mathematically brilliant architecture of the Mayans combined with the natural rotation of the Earth on the equinox, an amazing eerie image of a giant snake crawling down the temple is created. Kukulkan returns to earth to provide blessings for a full harvest and good health before bathing in the sacred waters below and continuing on his way to the underworld. » If you can\'t visit on either equinox, don\'t worry! The phenomenon is recreated nightly during the Light and Sounds Show at 7pm in winter and 8pm in summer. » We love doing things independently as much as we can when we travel. As Chichen Itza is located just a couple of hours drive away from Playa del Carmen (and Cancun) we rented a car and drove there ourselves so we didn\'t get to stay for the light show as we had to drive back.🚗 » What\'s your travel style? Are you a DIY person or do you prefer to go on an organised tour? Let us know in the comments below!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #Mexico #ChichenItza #SevenWondersOfTheWorld
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“Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.” — Kristen Butler » The sun sets over Edinburgh from Calton Hill, one of the seven hills of Edinburgh.🌆 » Set right in the city centre, Calton Hill is unmistakable with its unfinished Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline, giving Edinburgh it\'s nickname, the \"Athens of the North\". » It\'s a popular sunset spot as it\'s easily accessed - it only takes about five minutes to get to the top of the hill from two staircases on either side, or you can drive up and park - and it offers panoramic views down the length of Princes Street and of Edinburgh Castle.🏰 There are also great views of the coloured cliffs of the Salisbury Crags, Arthur\'s Seat, and the slopes of Holyrood Park.⛰️ » On the last night of April, up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for the Beltane Fire Festival, an ancient Celtic fertility festival. 🔥 Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields and \"Beltane\" is the Gaelic word for May. » In Edinburgh\'s revivalist celebration of Beltane, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Festival Society celebrate the ending of the \'dreich\' (Scottish slang for dreary and bleak) Scottish winter and the hoped-for season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around Calton Hill. 🔥 As well as the fiery displays, acrobatics, pulsating drums, and body-painted theatrics, the Beltane Fire Festival Society retell an immersive story for the crowd. » The revival of this festival started in 1988 as a free event but is now ticketed. There is also a Samhuinn (Samhain) Fire Festival on Halloween night which traditionally marked the beginning of winter in the Celtic calendar. 🎃 We hope to catch the Samhuinn Fire Festival festival later in the year! » Have been to any interesting cultural festivals? Let us know!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #EdinburghScotland #CaltonHill
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