Reindeers and empty ski slopes in Katrina Klövsjö

christoffer björkwall katrina klövsjö

Sweden is the home of many great skiers, like Ingemar Stenmark, Pernilla Wiberg and Anja Pärson. It is also the home of some good skiing resorts although not as excellent as the ones in the Alps, in my opinion. There are other advantages though.

My sisters, their families, and I have a yearly tradition of going to a ski resort in the middle of Sweden called Katrina Klövsjö. Katrina Klövsjö is a very small system with pretty much only a dozen slopes. This makes it quit crowded during school holidays but in between (like when we usually go) it does not attract the same amount of people at all.

I have been to Katrina Klövsjö twice now around March 14th to March 20th. Last year we were incredibly lucky with blue skies and -2 degrees almost every day. You could get up in the lift half an hour after they opened and still be the first one to ski a certain slope that morning. We literally had a slope by ourselves, untouched with perfectly prepared snow.




This year was equally empty although we were not as lucky with the weather. Although the warm conditions created soft, slushy snow we managed to ski almost all day before the slopes were ruined. In more well visited ski resorts they would have been ruined before lunch by all the skiers.

The lack of slopes does make it a bit boring in the long run though so it is suitable for some 3-4 days at most. The slopes

Sri Lanka,

Sri Lanka – in conclusion


How do you conclude a 30 day trip to Sri Lanka? As a trip itself it was very nice and we had some great experiences but also a few bad ones. We came to Sri Lanka without having read up an awful lot about it (due to an intense work schedule before the trip). With some more research we may have chosen better locations and skipped out on places like Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

Not knowing so much about the country and take it as it came was a nice way of travelling though. Still, it would have made it a bit more relaxing to know which places we should have stayed longer in instead of heading towards new ones in search for That One Place.

I kind of regret not seeing more of central Sri Lanka and places like Adam’s Peak, Sigiriya rock and perhaps also Kandy. The two hikes were, however, out of the question so it will just have to be put on the list of “things to see when/if I go back”.

Outside of these blog posts I will also create a small guide to Sri Lanka with my recommendations but here are my notes on Sri Lanka.
The beaches
If your main goal is to hang out by the beach you will not be disappointed. Sri Lanka has some of the best beaches I have seen in the world (and I have seen plenty). You have the wide range from the touristy beaches at Hikkaduwa to the empty ones outside Kudawa.

Sri Lanka,

Colombo – ending in style

colombo monk

After all the setbacks the last week I was starting to really look forward to go back home. Our final stop on the trip was to go back to Colombo. It turned out to be more exciting that it needed to. We were late to the train and never had time to buy tickets so we just had to hop on the train when it came. During the entire (crowded) train ride we discussed how to get pass the ticket collectors at the Colombo train station.

We finally decided to go to the ticket office and act like stupid tourists and as if we were actually leaving (as opposed to arriving) and looking for a place to buy tickets. This was the exact same thing we did when we came to Colombo a month earlier, only that time we did not act. The ticket guy let us out, we stood in the ticket line for a minute and then left – thus jumping a ticket that cost 60 Rp (30 cents). There were no other options really, since we could not buy a ticket and had to be on that train!

After a stop at the consulate we checked into a decent room with a sea view and went shopping since all of J’s clothes were gone.

One of the things we were looking forward to by coming to Colombo was to explore the good supply of vegetarian restaurants. We tried another Indian “bucket food” place that we tried in Nuwara Eliya and

Sri Lanka,

Bag stolen on the bus!

sri lanka bus

I felt like we have had a few days of bad luck here in Sri Lanka. We really couldn’t find that One Spot to settle down in and just relax our last days in Sri Lanka. I had more or less given up my hopes on finding a beach like Tangalle and was at least hoping to do a couple of scuba dives in the Colombo area during our last days.

Negombo, where we stayed one night again, had a few dive centers but we could not get ahold of any and the dive sites did not seem to exciting. Colombo supposedly had several great wreck dive sites but it turned out there was only one (1!) dive center in Colombo (Island Scuba) and it was fully booked. Not that it mattered much, all the dive sites in Colombo was for advanced divers – and not for Open Water divers like me. I was not happy…it felt stupid we had left Kalpitiya without diving.

J suggested we should go to Bentota. I was not too excited about that either to be honest. The reviews on Trip Advisor said it was a beach full of garbage, with only charter hotels and no restaurants outside of the charter hotels. I did not have any better suggestions so we got on the bus. Again.

Going through Colombo by bus is not a good idea. The traffic is horrible so it is incredibly slow. In addition, if the bus is not driving fast enough you get no

Sri Lanka,

Wilpattu – where we met the cutest Praying Mantis ever

lars-bertil praying mantis

Since we could not go diving we thought we would give the national parks of Sri Lanka, with its leopards and sloth bears, another shot. We went to Wilpattu National Park (fairly close to Kilpatiya) which is the largest national park on the island. Wilpattu also has a good amount of leopards, which are high up on my list of animals I want to see.

We get on a bus to Wilpattu Junction (which is the entry port to the park) and the bus is to full op people that you kind of have to get used to having someones hand bag, butt or elbow in your face for the major part of the trip. My way of handling this is to put on my head phones, chew on my corn cob and try to focus on something else. Those bus rides in Sri Lanka. Phew!

We time our arrival to Wilpattu Junction perfectly. The jeeps are just about to leave so we negotiate a price (4.500 Rp + park fees) and get on a jeep – this time by ourselves. It feels like this is the first time in a when have a bit of good luck!

We do not have any luck with the safari though. We see even less animals than last time! The most remarkable we see are two mongoose running over the road. Still, the safari is far more pleasant since we do not feel tricked and can enjoy the safari for what it is. In the long

Sri Lanka,

Betting all on a peninsula in northwest Sri Lanka

kalpitiya sunset beach

Ever since our days in Tangalle we have, at most, slept two nights at the same place – which is incredibly tiresome. Every day we have been sitting a few hours on a bus, had to spend some 30-60 minutes on finding a (cheap) guest house and, in addition, packed and packed up. The reason is that we have not really found the spot where we could feel: This is the place where we want to stay! in the same way we did in Tangalle.

We had heard a lot of good things about Kalpitiya in the northwest corner of Sri Lanka. Beautiful beaches, away from the tourist resorts and with good scuba diving. There is not so many other places around so we place all our bets on it and head up there, this time by train (phew).

On the train we meet Ramika and his girlfriend (both from Sri Lanka) who are heading for the same destination, to visit the girlfriend’s parents. They invite us to come along on a trip around the peninsula with their family, as well as stay with them if we want to as well. The hospitality, once again!

This time we (mostly me) say No thanks since they live quite simple with no fan etc. I already have severe sleeping problems in the heat so we check in at the only low price guest house in the area instead. In fact we never really go to Kalpitiya but to a place a bit south of Kudawa

Sri Lanka,

The traffic in Sri Lanka

warning elephant sign

After three days on a motor bike, a few rides with tuk-tuks and some bus rides I thought I would write a bit about how it is to travel on the roads of Sri Lanka. Before the trip I had read quite a bit about how chaotic the traffic was and it was mostly true. I have seen worse (India) but the traffic in Sri Lanka was not far behind.

First of all, in Sri Lanka you drive on the left side of the road but this is not really a problem, even if you are not used to it. If you are outside of the cities there is usually just one road and one lane to keep track of. When you are in your left lane it is no problem to just stay there. So, do not worry too much about that.
Buses and other large vehicles
The most important rule on the Sri Lankan roads: Big Vehicles Decide. If a bus wants to overtake in the opposite lane it is up to you to move out to the edge of your lane or simply smash into the grill of aforementioned bus! The buses drive like crazy on the roads: overtake in hidden turns, when there is clearly oncoming traffic (letting them break) and constantly honk their oversized horns to make you move.

Passes is thus not only done when there is an empty lane to pass in. It is very common that you see three parallel vehicles at an overtake. Sometimes I

Sri Lanka,

Negombo – the beach “everyone” visits

negombo beach

After Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage we were done with central Sri Lanka and took the evening bus the get to wake up by the ocean again. We drove straight west towards Negombo for which I had quite low expectations. We (“we” in these cases always means J) managed to get ahold of a really nice room with a balcony for 1.500 Rp ($7) close to the beach where we crashed into bed after a really long day.

Negombo is a beach “everyone” visits since it is so close to the airport and thus is a perfect first or last stop on a trip to Sri Lanka. I would not call it a classic tourist resort in the same style as Hikkaduwa but rather a combination of a tourist resort and a city next to the beach. When one could see tourist stores next to each other, Negombo has some local stores here and there. It feels less touristy but also a bit boring.

The beach of Negombo is, however, really really nice and almost free from parasolls, sunbeds and to some extent, people. There are, for good and bad, not really any restaurants by the beach to chill and have a Piña Colada at by the sunset. Instead, we went to the restaurant “Dolce Vita” to catch up on some work and have a coffee. The café, that is well worth a visit, is just by the beach but since the beach is so wide there is still some 200 burning hot meters

Sri Lanka,

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – do not go here!

pinnawala elephant orphanage

The ascent of Ella Peak made it obvious that my untrained lungs would not last any real stamina challenges. In addition J’s ruined knees would not manage a descent either. Thus, we had to remove Adam’s Peak and Sigiriya Rock from our travel plan.

Instead of excerices, views and cultural experiences we continued on our usual path: experiences with animals. Thus, we continued to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. It should be noted that we (unfortunately) had not researched it well enough but what we had read about it seemed fantastic – a place where they take care of orphan elephant babies that lost their parents to poachers etc. We were looking forward to a place where volunteers took care of these majestic animals while preparing the for a life back in the wild and where one, as a tourist, could make a small difference.

The reality was something completely different.

After a long and sweaty bus ride we arrived what would best be described as a prison camp for elephants. Some elephants were chained to the concrete ground in areas that were called “Forest” and “Free land”, ironically. The majority were instead chained like cows in booths where they stood chewing on palm leaves. Several of them just stand waving back and forth in a very unhealthy manner.






At least the youngest elephants get to go down to the river, twice a day, to play and cool off. This is where the majority of the photos from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage are take and what all

Sri Lanka,

From Ella to Nuwara Eliya – an amazing train ride!

train ride central sri lanka

I had heard a lot of good things about the train ride from Ella (the same train track we had previously walked on) and my expectations were met completely! When we came back frmo Ella Peak we hurried to get our luggage, get some rotti for the tripand jumped on the noon train to Nuwara Eliya in central Sri Lanka.

I was positively surprised from the start how few tourists there were on the train, in fact there hardly any people on the train at all. We could choose window seats with ease and, in addition, door seats as well. The “door seats” are places at the doors (that are constantly open) where you can sit and have the best view possible. We tooks tons of photos, leaned back and enjoyed how the landscape shifted in front of our eyes all the time.



After a while we noted how the train ride was going quite slow and especially how long we stayed at each station (30-45 min). We realized the “goods train” we had taken took twice as long as the other trains since it had to load and unload at every station. We were not in a rush though. We are in Sri Lanka to experience the country and this was just another way.

Except for the beautiful landscape outside we had a good time inside the train as well. At one station a big group of kids get on the train to go back home from school. One of them, a