Before writing a more detailed blog/s about my trip to Sri Lanka, I thought of sharing first my impression of this beautiful country.
I came to Sri Lanka as a complete stranger, I didn’t know anyone in this country or even from this country (who is in Dubai). Well you might be wondering why I decided to visit this country? Why not? I have been reading how beautiful the beaches and how rich the culture of Sri Lanka are and this two elements combined together creates a perfect get away ( and yes, I need to get a way for a little while ^^).
As I searched several blogs, trip reviews and travel agencies, I went to Sri Lanka along with a friend of mine expecting a wonderful adventure a head of us.
Almost all of the countries (including the Philippines – which I am a passport holder) can apply for a visa upon arrival. Although it is quite easy to get a visa at the airport, the line can be too long and it will eat up a lot of your time (which for sure you would rather spend in touring the country). What me an my friend did was to apply online prior to our flight to avoid the lengthy queue.
Sri Lankan Immigration introduced ETA System (Electronic Travel Authorization) in 2012. Now travelers can obtain ETA to Sri Lanka online. ETA is linked to your passport electronically. When you arrive in Sri Lanka, you just need to show your passport and (tada!!!) the Immigration Officer will find you in their system right away and will give you a small visa sticker.
With our short trip (meaning we only got a portion of this country can offer), below are the things that I got from it!
Sri Lanka is indeed a GREEN PARADISE.
From the airport until our final location, all we saw were never ending green landscapes; valleys, trees, mountains and more trees. This was really a different view from all the skyscrapers in Dubai.
Thick green mountains, water falls, lakes and beautiful beaches, you can all find it here.
Sri Lanka is a small island nation, so you can go from coast to coast easily. You can hop on a train (mostly recommended) or rent car (which we did due to the short time we have —but I will try that train ride soon). You will be in a mountain area now and after just 5 hours on the road you will find yourself standing on a sandy beach.
If you are thinking of booking a private tour, with a private car to roam around Sri Lanka, you can check out http://www.travel-srilanka.eu and choose from their wide selection of tour packages.
The city of Kandy, where we stayed overnight was no different as well. Even though this is one of the biggest cities in Sri Lanka, the town is very clean and as you can see in photos below, the natural landscape is picturesque.
I even saw my first cherry blossom tree here. ^^
We were so lucky that our driver was very helpful and when we mentioned about wanting to see the beaches, even though it was not part of our tour package, he went out of his way and brought us in this magnificent sunset view.
More than the green forests and terrains, Sri Lanka is famous for its beaches. After seeing this, I am not wondering why any more.
Another thing that I love about Sri Lanka is their diverse and amazing wildlife. Being a tropical country, Sri Lanka is a haven for different types of animals (and insects). Even though bugs can become annoying, instead of complaining, just appreciate that you are one with nature. (if you will just complain about bugs, just stay inside your hotel room—-sometimes I am guilty of this).
Speaking of being one with nature, it was a privilege having a close encounter with these beauties. This was the closest I’ve been with an elephant. I got to ride on its back and even scrubbed and bathe it. Although, what I felt, before, during and after was pretty much a roller coaster of opinions and emotions, I must say that this is one of the highlights of my trip. More of what I think about the Elephant Orphanage in another blog soon.
Aside from the rich natural beauty, Sri Lanka is also rich in culture. Everywhere you look, you can see traces of what Sri Lankan believes and also bits of its history.
Being a Buddhist nation, temples and different statues of Buddha can be seen everywhere. Although we didn’t visit a lot of temples, our trip to the Tooth Temple in Kandy gave us a glimpse of the Sri Lankan devotion to Buddha.
Sri Lanka is a location for 8 Unesco Heritage Sites, this speaks well about the Sri Lankan culture and heritage.
Sri Lanka is also a nation rich in festivities and arts. We saw a full-length show of different Kandy Traditional Dance gracefully performed by the local artists.
I also saw how PASSIONATE the locals are with their crafts. I’ve seen Sri Lankan laborers in Dubai and I know for a fact that they are one of the most industrious people in the world.
On our way to the tea factory, I saw these women plucking tea leaves under the scorching sun. I actually tried it and it was really hard. What I loved about this is that these beautiful ladies with their surely aching back still has a smile in their face ready to greet us.
One sad thing though, tourism really took its effect in some of the areas in Sri Lanka. I can say that I was a little shocked (but understood why) that a lot of people who helped us expected a tip right away. Tipping became a norm and can range from 500-1500 Sri Lankan Rupees. That is why whenever someone took their time to help us without actually expecting anything in return I was really happy and we appreciate it very much —-there are still a lot of them out there ^^.
Everyone offered us a big warm smile wherever we go! (that kid at the center smiled after I took this photo :P)
I really am not that familiar with Sri Lankan food, that is why before going here, I consulted blogs (and youtube videos) in order to know what to expect. After having a taste, I can say that Sri Lankan food has this interestingly flavor. Somewhere in between Indian and Thai food, most of their cuisines are spicy and blended with curry and coconut milk.
I will not pretend that everyone will like it, but it can be an interesting adventure for your taste buds.
If you are planning for a trip where you can just unwind, be embraced by nature and immersed in the culture, you should consider visiting Sri Lanka. Either for a short or long trip, I am sure you will love this place the way that I loved it (even more).