I have so much admiration and fascination for Sri Lanka. This historical South Asian island has it all – culture, exotic beaches, UNESCO heritage sites and national parks. This absurdly beautiful one stop destination is not only a country steeped in rich history, but also home to the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Why should you visit Sri Lanka? It is so incredibly magical that you would feel sorry for yourself wanting to go to Bali after embracing that whole eat, pray, love aspiration. The suicidal stray dogs, narrow roads, reckless tuk-tuk drivers, high-speed buses, horns bellowing, plethora of rice and curry, peacocks and elephants attempting to cross the road, if you have an issue with that, well calm yourself with some Sri Lankan whisky. Old Keg whisky that is. Ah, how I miss Sri Lanka!
Places I’ve visited:
This fourth largest city in Sri Lanka located on the west coast is known for its fishing industry. This small coastal town is located near to Colombo’s main airport, so it tends to be the first or last stop for visitors. In Negombo, after a hearty Sri Lankan rice and curry for breakfast, our local driver took us to the country’s second largest fish market. The fish market was colourful and lively as customers and vendors were haggling and jostling around – it’s difficult to tell who was having a better time.
Local fishermen and customers were chatting away cheerfully oblivious to visitors like me snapping photos of barracudas, sharks, tuna and some I don’t even recognize.
While I was gawking at people hard at work, the rest of my family were quenching their thirst with king coconuts, the drink of choice apparently on this island. Definitely worth a visit to get a glimpse of local Lankan life by the sea and this was where I imagined Gizzi Erskine would be throwing a party here. Who wouldn’t want a seafood feast with Gizzi Erskine?
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura was once a Ceylonese political and religious capital of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura was one of the first planned cities in the world and is situated next to the Malvathu river, the second longest river in Sri Lanka. Once a glorious city, Anuradhapura was abandoned after an invasion in 933AD by the Chola Emperor Rajaraja I. The site was left secluded in the jungle for centuries until revived by the British in the 19th century. This ancient site was the highlight of my trip; the entire time in this sacred city I was mesmerized by the beauty of the monasteries, palaces, bathing pools, water reservoirs and monuments.
Ruwanwelisaya is believed to be the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka. Constructed in 140B.C, by King Dutugemunu, this 338 ft tall majestic architecture is definitely larger than life. At dusk when local worshippers were seen performing a ceremony, the spiritual ambiance slowly started to set in, creating a mysterious and enchanting mood that made me want to linger longer. Anuradhapura is where you can take a tour of the past.
For cultural travellers that like a bit of style, you will like Galle. A city in Sri Lanka that was formerly occupied by Portuguese, Dutch and British. Galle’s streets are not only heavy with Dutch and British influence but also exuding a flair of pretentious atmosphere. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a bit hipster-ish, so if you want a space to provoke your creative senses while having a bubbly, this is your playground as fancy art galleries, colonial houses, boutique hotels and boho-chic cafes are abound.
After an unbelievably scrumptious Sri Lankan crab curry dish in Peddlar’s Inn for lunch, I couldn’t think straight as my body was begging me to indulge in that daytime booze. By the beach of course with the rose-tinted sunset.
Sri Lanka is made to dazzle beach goers, you can expect to replenish your soul just by looking at the gorgeous rugged coastlines where you would want to kiss the powdery sands and plunge into the glistening green blue sea. Or, bask in the warm sunshine and order a cocktail or king coconut to complete your #vacaycay while enjoying the flawless surroundings.
And the only sound you can hear besides the waves crashing on the beach is the sound of your own jaw dropping on the sands. It was an absolutely mesmerizing view – the Indian Ocean and tall palm trees gently swaying against the perfect postcard picture background. Time to crank up Aaliyah’s rock the boat track! #dolcevita #stylishrelaxation
Mirissa (there was a collective gasp when we drove by) mostly appeals to travellers, but we have checked into a boutique hotel by Ambalangoda beach. The beautiful, serene and almost deserted beach certainly has a calming effect on us. Here, I’ve realized that I truly love the languid pace of Lankan life.
More on Sri Lanka in my next post.