Well, hello there. I apologize for being a terrible blogger. I honestly don’t know what my problem has been other than that I just haven’t felt like writing. This might be an indication to me that pursuing a professional writing career may not be in my best interest. I lack the discipline and wherewithal to set aside a time specifically for writing. Well, I can set aside the time—but actually using the time seems to be the problem. Other things seem to more readily occupy that time like watching Netflix, or reading books (written by OTHER people), or traversing the various social media apps, which are my life’s great time suckers. How is it that I can sit on my bed and open Pinterest, and 3 hours later have no clue what I’ve been doing? I’m sure some of you can relate to this dilemma. In any case, I am going to try to be more diligent about posting especially with regard to updating my travel posts. I’ve been asked to post some tips about how I’m doing all that I’m doing while traveling, so I’ve included some pointers in this post that I hope you find helpful. So despite my apparent lack of dedication to the blogosphere, I hope you enjoy!
As you may or may not know, I visited the beautiful Sri Lanka over my spring break holiday this year. (Let’s not discuss how many months ago that was, shall we?) My friend, Zoe and I decided that this was a place we really needed to see for a couple of reasons. 1. It is very cheap to take a nice trip to Sri Lanka (from here). From the states you can find flights from about $1200.00 US round trip to Colombo depending on what time of the year you’d like to travel. And once you are there everything is very inexpensive and affordable. 2. Everyone we knew who had gone to Sri Lanka absolutely loved it and gave rave reviews. In fact, no one that I know who has visited this island nation has anything negative to say about their trip. However, that said, there are some things you should know before you head there. So here are a couple of tips to make your visit to Sri Lanka enjoyable:
- Obtain a visitor’s visa. This is really easy to do. You go online to http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and pay the fee, and that’s it. They will take care of the rest once you arrive in Sri Lanka.
- Create an itinerary. Also easy. You can do a couple of different things. You can book through a tour company. Or you can create your own itinerary. I highly recommend checking out Small Luxury Hotels of the World. http://www.slh.com/ They are a great resource for charming hotels. Also you MUST hire a driver. We used http://srilankantourguide.com/ The guy who runs the site is Sarath. He was already booked for our dates, so he recommended our driver Sidath. We loved him!! I highly recommend using this service. It was wonderful.
- Here’s what we did:
25.03.2016 – Arrival Pick up from the airport and drive to Dambulla. Check in to the hotel – Signature by Amaya. http://www.signature-by-amaya-dambulla-sri-lanka.en.ww.lk/26.03.2016 – Early breakfast then visit Sigiriya rock fortress and Dambulla cave temple.27.03.2016 – Leave early in the morning to Kandy. En route visit spice and herbal garden , Hindu temple. At Kandy , Chauffeur will take you around Kandy for quick city tour before getting to the train. We took the the 12:30 train to Nanuoya where our driver picked us up.Over night – Amaya Langdel. https://www.langdalebyamaya.com/28.03.2016 – Visit Horton Plains in the morning. Afternoon – visit tea plantation and factory.29.03.2016 – After having breakfast drive to Bentota via Kithulgala. En route you will stop by St. Clair’s water fall and Devon water fall. Optional – you could do white water rafting at Kithulgala.After rafting have a lunch and drive to Bentota beach. Centara Ceysands hotel. http://www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centara/ccs/
- Take the train!! This was by far my favorite part of the trip. I’ll talk more about that later. It’s the only way to see the interior of the island, and believe me, it’s worth it. It’s super cheap. Supposedly there is a way to book your tickets on line. But we couldn’t find out how to do it. However, we did buy the non-reserved seats tickets, which are on a first come, first served basis. All that means is if it’s a really busy day, you might have to stand. Neither of us were too enthusiastic about that, but our driver suggested we do it anyway, and if we didn’t get the seats, then we could just drive with him since the amount for the actual tickets was like $4 American each. Take the train. Trust me on this.
How do you pack for Sri Lanka? It’s HOT and humid in Sri Lanka pretty much year round. We went the end of March beginning of April which is actually high season. High season is from December to March. Visiting in the summer months can be dicey because of the monsoon. You will need to have lightweight clothing and bring a light rain jacket. If you are traveling to the high country, where the tea plantations are—you HAVE to go here, the weather is quite cool and breezy. If you plan to visit any of the temples there, and there are some beautiful ones, you need to make sure you have something to cover your shoulders and your arms. Women should err on the side of modesty. (Although we saw all manner of clothing while there, but just because you can wear it, doesn’t mean you should wear it). Part of being a responsible traveler is to be mindful and respectful of others customs and cultures.
There is so much to see and do in Sri Lanka it’s difficult to narrow it down. But I just loved, loved, loved the train. This for me is a must do! It’s cheap and the views are stunning and the ONLY way you can have these views is take the train. The roads in Sri Lanka are under construction in many parts, and driving is tedious and difficult. (Hence the necessity for a driver). Also, the roads can be quite winding, so if you are prone to motion sickness, I highly recommend you have Dramamine or some kind of motion sickness medicine. You can catch the train in Kandy, and we took the shorter trip to Nanuoya (about 4 ish hours) which flew by! At each little stop there are people who hop on the train selling all sorts of snacks from fresh fruits, juices and even corn on the cob (Zoe’s favorite). It’s all delicious and very cheap. There is something so romantic about old-fashioned train travel…the clackety clack of the tracks, the rhythmic chugging of the engine, windows down, cool breezes, friendly chatter–we loved it all. It was beautiful and so worth the time.
While in Sri Lanka you’ll have a unique opportunity to see elephants. I was super excited about this. I’ve always wanted to go on a safari, and I got the opportunity at the Habarana Nature Preserve. Here the elephants roam free and are not chained. There are many other places to see the elephants in Sri Lanka including an elephant “orphanage.” However, we did not want to see or contribute to a tourism industry that abuses animals or keeps them chained. Also, please NEVER ride the elephants. There are many stories about how abused these majestic creatures are, so please just see them in their natural habitat. Trust me, it’s wonderful and beautiful. We got into our little open air jeep, and off we went. We saw lots of elephants and even had a moment of excitement when a rather and large and angry male elephant charged our jeep!! It was an amazing day and definitely a highlight of our trip.
Soooo…this is something that everyone does when they come to Sri Lanka, but I was less than thrilled about the prospect of climbing up 6000 steps (Ok, so not 6000 about 1200) but BELIEVE me, it felt like 6000 in the sweltering heat. Fortunately our driver had warned us about the heat and recommended that we get there early, and were we glad we did! I didn’t go all the way to the top, but Zoe did, and we were proud of ourselves for having conquered the 8th Wonder of the World! It was incredible.
HORTON PLAINS CLOUD FOREST
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am not a huge fan of hiking. After years of sports, my ankles are wobbly at best, and at worst, I can turn them on a dime. I hate that, and I hate being constantly aware that I might injure my ankle and end up in the dreaded boot again! Ugh. So when I heard about the 7km hike, I was a little worried. Despite my fears, I’m really, really glad I went. It was so beautiful. I mean the pictures don’t even do it justice. And while the hike was long and sometimes difficult, it was well worth it. We hiked all the way to World’s End, and it was a glorious day. Our driver, Sidath, was a real trooper, carrying our lunches and helping me get through the “treacherous” spots. And at the end of our hike, we enjoyed an ice cold soda and a photo shoot with a very intrepid deer.
The beaches in Sri Lanka are gorgeous. We ended our trip with a few days just relaxing in the sun in Bentota on the Southern coast. After all the hiking, climbing and trekking, it was a great ending to an amazing trip. We’d laze around in the sun for most the day, then head back to the beach at the end of the day to enjoy the breath-taking sunsets. We’d just sit in the sand and wait. We were never disappointed.
So, friends, if you’d like to visit a place of unspoiled, natural beauty, Sri Lanka needs to be on your bucket list. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to travel, and this trip did not disappoint.
Till next time,