Our very own Lisa has just come back from a trip to Sri Lanka, and over the next week she's going to be letting us in on what she got up to! First things first- we want to hear why we should be heading to Sri Lanka this year...
I hadn’t really had too much time to research Sri Lanka before I jetted off on my mission and so the usual devouring of a Lonely Planet took place on the flight from London to Colombo. As we flew over Southern India and on across the Indian Ocean, which was dramatically crashing on to the shoreline of the Teardrop Island - the lush, green views of Sri Lanka as the plane descended into Colombo definitely got the juices flowing and stepping out into the airport on arrival, I felt a little underprepared but stupidly excited.
I’m sure I was Asian in a past life. Me and Asia just fit and my first impressions of Sri Lanka didn’t disappoint.
I must admit, not having travelled to a destination like this for a good 4 or 5 years, I did have that little knot of fear in my belly and a vague “am I really up for this?” echoing around in my head for the first evening but by the morning those feelings of uncertainty had changed to an all consuming – “come on Sri Lanka – sock it to me, give me everything you’ve got!!!”
And boy did it oblige: a total assault on my senses. Smells, sounds, smiles and sights that will stay with me forever.
If the following things are high on your travelling agenda then you HAVE to add Sri Lanka to your must see bucket list – no excuses:
Lip smacking food – some of the most flavoursome curry and dhal I have ever eaten. And the hoppers (no, not grass ones) – little crispy bowl-shaped pancakes filled with an egg at the bottom – or simply plain and ready to dip – don’t miss those. But at the top of the food pops for me was the Kotthu Rotty which you’d hear being chopped up as you wandered the evening streets – too tasty for words and cheaper than a pound!
Friendly folk – smiles everywhere – from school kids cycling home, chefs in the kitchen sweating it out, workers in the fields, people on the buses, families visiting the temple... everyone I met had a warm smile for me and usually a wave too. One guy even shared one of his precious flowers for Buddha (it was his birthday in Sri Lanka – Vesak festival) with me - which I dutifully laid at the feet of an awesome gold statue – big enough to see for miles around.
The craziest driving you’ll ever see (unless you’ve been to Asia before!). No traffic lights and what the hell is a roundabout? The beep beep of cars, buses and tuk tuks charging past each other with no hint of road rage anywhere – chaotic madness - brilliant. And try to experience at least one journey on the local buses – great views from inside and out – who needs air conditioning right?
Stunning scenery to delight your eyeballs: Are you a beach fan? – No problem; Like mountains? Tick. Love lakes and rivers? Uh huh. Do paddy fields do it for you? You won’t be disappointed. There’s a scene for everyone. Sri Lanka was WAY more photogenic than I imagined. If you’re any kind of photographer – take a BIG memory card for your camera!
Wildlife to knock your socks off. I’m a bit of a birder so being able to spot kingfishers casually hanging out on the telegraph poles as we trundled past on the buses – was amazing! And an hour long walk revealed about 30 different bird species. Not your boring robins or blackbirds but brightly coloured exotic birds that happily posed for their close-ups! Birds aside though – if elephants are your thing then head to the Pinnawala Elephant Centre to watch them all bathing in the river. You may even see some wild elephants if you venture into the national parks… and there are leopards too.
If you’ve never considered Sri Lanka before, then you really should. I’d describe it as a user-friendly India. All the best bits and perhaps even more friendly and beautiful…