Julian Walter Photography Blog


Sri Lanka

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One month exploring this beautiful country was the perfect amount of time to take it slow and get a good feel for things. Started out in Colombo, made our way north to Jaffna, down into some mountain towns, and then to the south coast in Weligama. It was my first time to this part of the world and from what I’ve heard Sri Lanka is like an “India Lite”, meaning obviously much smaller and a bit calmer. Being almost three quarters Buddhist, it makes for a slightly different vibe than its predominantly Hindu neighbor.

Our favorite was the beautiful region around Jaffna in the north, not that there was anything stunning about it geographically speaking, but the people and little places to discover made it very special. Some places were very relaxed and inviting, while others were a bit intense, especially while exploring with a blonde girl by my side when I needed to jump into photographing situations in a large crowd of people.

We were fascinated by the way things ran here and the different mentalities we came across. We were especially shocked to hear that most Sri Lankans thought Donald Trump was a great guy, then they were confused when I told them that he doesn’t like dark skinned people. Some, we concluded, must simply be giving the thumbs up for camaraderie, not knowing that most Americans who travel are the ones who don’t like him.

Overall this place has lots of great potential for travel and I’d really like to get out on my own at some point and off the common path. The locals were almost always very excited to see westerners, curious to ask where we came from and how we liked their country. I can understand why some travelers are so drawn to this part of the world and I definitely hope I can keep making occasional visits for the rest of my life.

Colombo

My first impression into Sri Lanka, this city’s center isn’t very large but it can feel crowded in the main tight commercial zones. Next to downtown is a construction site that covers many acres and spans into the water, preparing the foundations for some atrocious Dubai style living places right on the water. It will be interesting to see how it will change in the coming years.

The railway is placed right along the coast which leaves room for beautiful photo opportunities as the overpacked trains haul through. You’ll get anything from super friendly smiles to the horrible hustlers that won’t leave you alone. All in all it was an interesting place to spend a few days.

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

This mosque only came about one hundred years ago by the growing muslim community. Muslims make up about 10% of the population.

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

Anuradhapura

Known for being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, as well as the center of a major branch of Buddhism for many centuries, this city has a large area of well maintained monasteries that are beautiful to explore.

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Anuradhapura - Julian Walter Photography

Jaffna

Our favorite. The center of the northern provinces, Jaffna is still relatively less visited as the region was plagued by civil war from 1983 until very recently in 2009. This area doesn’t necessarily have many distinct attractions, which made it perfect for getting out on a motorbike and exploring. The people were incredibly friendly and always happy to see visitors coming around.

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Tamil Wedding Ceremony

We stumbled upon a wedding happening in this church on one of the islands near the city. The garments and overall decorations were incredible and we were happy to witness the whole ceremony. They invited us to lunch after where we learned a bit more about how these work in their culture. It was an arranged marriage between these two families that lived far away from each other, the man was local, while the girl was from 300km away in a city called Kandy. In their culture, a couple gets together when the man is 25 and the woman is only 20. The girl in particular seemed a bit overwhelmed by the process, but before leaving we had a brief exchange with them and they were all smiles and happy to have had us as drop in guests.

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

The family photographed below was full of warmth when we passed by and stopped our scooter. They waived us over and greeted us with smiles and hellos. With only limited communication as they did not speak much English, we were able to have a decent conversation and learn about them. The man in the first picture described not being able to maintain a steady job as he has problems in his head. Joanna being a doctor asked to see his medication and told me he most likely experiences seizures.

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Jaffna - Julian Walter Photography

Trains

The trains in this country are incredibly photogenic. I found myself restless sitting as I always thought the perfect shot or portrait was in the next car over. It’s easy to wander and explore the whole length as all the doors are open, even the ones to the outside! Only thing was keeping steady hands while getting jostled around by the ride.

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Trains - Julian Walter Photography

Nuwara Eliya

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya - Julian Walter Photography

Adam’s Peak

One of the tallest points in the country at almost 7400ft, this peak is revered by the population of Sri Lanka. Each religion feels a special connection to it due to a footprint shaped mark in a rock at the top, where the Buddhists believe it was from Buddha, Shiva for the Hindus, and Adam’s first step on Earth after descending from heaven for Islam and Christianity.

Today this has become a common pilgrimage for many Sri Lankans, and a well known attraction for travelers as well. Paved the entire way basically till it becomes one large staircase, it is a goal to start the 1000 meter (~3300 ft) climb early in the morning and arrive a couple hours later at the top in time for sunrise. It is shocking to see the range of types of people still achieving it, from parents carrying kids on their shoulders, to very elderly people making very slow but steady progress on their way to the top. It was crowded at the peak and certain spots were too packed to be worth fighting for the view of the sunrise itself, but the temple allowed 360 degree visibility onto the mountains below to allow for some beautiful sights.

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Sri Lanka Adam's Peak - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Adam's Peak - Julian Walter Photography

Weligama (South Coast)

This is where most of my shooting ended, as I got happily sidetracked by friends and surfing. However, I still found little moments to run to my room and grab my camera. I can imagine these parts are rapidly being developed for tourism, but there is plenty of charm left to explore.

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Weligama - Julian Walter Photography

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