Discovering Sri Lanka’s Tropical Landscapes – My First International Trip
I always wanted to have an international trip and the feeling of having my passport finally stamped. I have heard people around me planning their trips, ranting continuously for months together about the do’s and dont’s of being on an international trip, and the rest of them eagerly sketching their honeymoon itinerary, rather than the wedding itself. All this and a lot more made me think if I could even, afford an international trip.
Just then, a friend of mine called me up one fine day with an offer that sounded like a million dollars…”Hey, Snig would you like to join us to Sri Lanka for a 7-day trip that would cost around INR 35,000″
As soon as I heard her, I hadn’t even given it a second thought and had immediately said a yes. Trust me it was the best decision of life.
Two months post that day, we had everything in place, passport and visa, a wonderful itinerary, booked a cab to travel around the country, right from the pickup at the airport on day 0 until the drop off on the day 7, and of course Airbnb accommodations for all the 6 nights (each place had a beautiful experience). Here is my day wise itinerary which helped me in falling in love with Sri Lanka.
Day 0: Flight from Chennai to Colombo, once we landed in Colombo, the weather was super sultry and hot, at 3:00 AM in the morning, which took us by a surprise. We headed off to our stay in Negombo, our mouths fell open in awe when we saw that villa, it was splendid, beautiful and surrounded by greens on all fours, I could hear my mind scream in happiness “OOOOH LALALA this is called a holiday”
Day 1: We decided to spend a light day, just exploring the city, Buddhist temples, churches, fish market, some old forts and nevertheless the sandy beach. Did you know that 70% of Sri Lankan’s are Buddhists and note, one needs to dress appropriately to enter these Buddhist temples and churches (so speaks the experienced ;)). Oh yes, and if you are a Tamilian or at least look like one, then you are for sure going to attract many localities eagerly waiting to strike a conversation with you. We did explore some Srilankan food for lunch at a place called Choicy, Sambol being my favorite. If you are a non-vegetarian and seafood lover you have many options to savor your hunger, but one needs to clearly reiterate if you need spicy food, and they eat a huge quantity of rice so one serving generally has ample amount for two people.
Day 2: Our journey from Negombo to Kandy, on the way we, visited the ancient city Sigiriya, a world heritage site, it is known for an enormous gateway in the form of a lion and a mirror wall and the famous Anuradhapura period paintings. Reaching the top of the Sigiriya rock felt like an achievement, as it involved climbing up almost 660 ft, in the hot sun. The best part of the day was yet to come, an elephant (Ms. Kumari) ride in the Sigiriya Lake for an hour, I got the opportunity to sit on her neck and she was kind enough to not drop me 😛 and reach us to the end point both safe and secure.
We got a chance to hog on egg hoppers and egg paratha, they were so delicious that my taste buds still crave for it. At the end of the day, when we reached Kandy, we could already feel the change in weather it had suddenly turned cold and breezy, the accommodation in Kandy was slightly creepy with a jungle right behind the house and an old well (like the one in the ring movie) in the backyard.
Day 3: Sri Lanka is also known for its famous spice gardens, and this country is where cinnamon had originated from, so obviously we wouldn’t leave without visiting the spice gardens. Following which we visited the famous Pinnawala elephant orphanage, it was an awestruck moment to see all those tiny little ( oK, not literally tiny :P) baby elephants running around drinking milk from feeding bottles, while a more interesting sight was to watch my animal lover friend screaming AWWWWLLEEE Pintooo and running behind those babies desperate to touch them :P. We explored Kandy city and moved towards NuwaraEliya. This city took us by surprise for many reasons. First, it was freezing cold, I just couldn’t feel my hands everything was so numb. Second, all the houses were built on Hills, and the main thing which actually shocked me, the city sleeps off at 7:00 PM, you don’t find people on the roads, all shops are closed and restaurants do not serve after 9:00 PM. But again the homestay we booked was just so comfy and amazing, OMG it had a fireplace, again the best setup for a beautiful night.
Day 4: Truly, the most memorable day of the trip, In Nuwara Eliya, there is a place called World’s end in Horton’s plane. Someone rightly said that to achieve something one needs to work really hard, and so did we to reach the World’s end that is a drop of 4000 ft., we had to trek for 3 hours one way and my god what should I say, I never felt this drained out, but when we reached there, the view and feeling both were beyond words.
After a tiring day, we decided to end it with a classy gentleman’s dinner at a private club (Hill Club), Courtesy a friend who decided to treat us (the other poor hungry kids), on his achievement ;).
Day 5: A Train journey to Ella, we traveled through the greens and were exposed to countryside passing many tea estates and small towns. In Ella, we visited the famous nine arch bridge way.
One thing about Sri Lanka I’d never forget is the numerous kinds of tea, afternoon tea, English tea, morocco mint tea, black tea etc.etc. I have had so much tea during my entire trip that I did not have a single cup ever since I am back to India. From Ella, we headed towards Weligama, and once again the home stay turned out to be extremely cozy, comfortable and hospitable. Here I would like to add that people in Sri Lanka are really friendly, warm and cheerful, every single place we stayed, we have been treated like guests and not some customers. This point has surely added the essence to our trip.
Awesome views from our train ride to Ella
Tea Estates in Nuwara Eliya
Day 6: From Weligama, we moved towards south of Sri Lanka, Galle, on our way my animal lover friend wanted to see some turtles, so we checked out the turtle park and then visited the Weligama beach, it was a picturesque sight blue waters and white sand, and thus obviously just couldn’t stop clicking pictures, One of my best pictures till date has been clicked in this place, picture credits to my DSLR friend ;)(Guess every single trip has one such DSLR friend, without whom the trip is incomplete). So Galle is known for its Portuguese colonies and churches, we tried covering most of it. As it was also the last night of our wonderful trip we decided to end it in style by having good Sri Lankan Dinner in a classy restaurant with some really good wine for company, and ended the night at our last resort.
Day 7: A trip to Sri Lanka is incomplete without paying a visit to the popular Hikkaduwa beach, located in the southern province of the country, this place is celebrated for its nightlife and water sports. My one advice after visiting this place, to all the people planning to make a trip to Sri Lanka, do spend more than a day in Hikkaduwa and try to make the most of this place.
After which, it was time to bid goodbye to the elephants, greenery, beaches and yes, of course, the friendly people. Back to Colombo and VOILA, this brings me to the end of a memorable episode of my starting tiny step to a successful international trip. Hoping to explore more going ahead!