Sri Lanka - The Pearl of Indian Ocean
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Stilt fishing near Kogaala, South Sri Lanka
Following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has opened its doors to the world and has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years. Often referred to as the Peral of this Indian Ocean- this is a country held together by an intriguing mix of deep-rooted Buddhist beliefs, colonial heritage of the British, Dutch and the Portuguese and the local way of life.
Our 9 days travel through Sri Lanka took us to the beautiful beaches of the south, put us face to face with the famous Yala Leopard, bedazzled us with the lush green hills and tea gardens, ruins and world heritage sites and filled out heart with joy with each morsel of delicious Sri Lankan food, specially the rice and curries.
Our stay in Galle - Green Casa, a beautiful Villa restored from a old Dutch house
Galle Fort Light House
Releasing baby turtle back in the ocean at sunset, Galle
Stilt fishing, Kogaala
It is one of those few places that has it all- stunning tropical beaches fringed by coconut trees, cloud kissed highlands that flavour the country's famous tea, abundant wildlife and vibrant landscape- not to mention the mouth-watering food, mesmerising heritage and simple and friendly locals.
One of the many beach side open air bar and restaurant in Tangalle
Big Game Yala - our tainted accommodation at Yala National Park
Little Adam's Peak - Ella
Tea leaf picking - Ella
Tea tasting season at Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory, Ella
There are too many stories to tell- but one that always comes to my mind is my 4 year old’s unexpected love affair with the tea gardens. We had visited the Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory where one very knowledgeable gentleman gave us a guided tour of the place and went deep into the science and geography of tea… we were one of the 4 couples, and Oviyan was the only non-adult member! As the tour progressed we were a bit sceptical of our decision to bring a 4 year old along and we tried to make things interesting by adding some interesting facts that we could cook up in our brains. When it came to the tasting session, Oviyan was there in front- the first one to taste each variety and gulped down every drop in every cup. He was so thrilled with the whole experience- that after a few years when we went to a brewery he asked why he wasn’t allowed to taste the whiskeys and made a lot of heads turn around (yes we did take him to a brewery 😊)
The next day to our dismay and surprise he kept asking us for a second trip to the tea factory! We decided to stop at Damro Labookellie Tea Centre, however this one was way too commercial and crowded and there was no laid back and lazy tea tasting. We ordered some tea but this didn’t cut the mustard for our little tea lover!
But then there were a lot of other firsts for him- first sighting of a leopard in the wild, releasing baby turtles in the sea, staying on a tree house etc!
Haputale Rail Station - waiting for a train to travel back to Ella through beautiful countryside
Tea gardens of central Sri Lankan hilly region
Kandy fruit and vegetable market
Sri Lankan cultural dance - Kandy
Another whacky confusion was when we headed for Candy- Oviyan kept asking how long it will take all the way (well that wasn’t new but just the hurry to get there rather than the boredom of the journey). Once we parked he looked very let down and asked where Candy was- we kept saying we are already here…after some Q&A we figured out that Oviyan was perhaps imagining some sort of city of candies or some fantasy candy destination!! All he wanted after this massive let down was a real candy- so we just checked in and I looked for the regular candy bowls at the reception but there were none! I asked one of the ladies trying to explain the situation and she went running to look for one and then came back saying for some reason do don’t have any candies, but the chef has sent some cakes instead. Well we were more than happy but silly children cannot be pleased- what no candies in ‘Candy’ I heard a grumpy little man say under his breath!
Dambulla Cave Temple
Well the stories never end and something that we realized over time is that stories happen when you plans don’t work! We were heading to the Buddha tooth relic temple and Joy had repeated and reminded me enough number of times to ensure I didn’t turn up at the temple in shorts- we were stretched for time so did our best to reach there as early as possible in the evening. And then the inevitable happened- I breezed through the doors and Joy was stopped for wearing shorts!! He didn’t see that coming and argued that his shorts adequately covered his knees but the staff wouldn’t buy that but asked if we had a sarong or something- now usually I have one of those in my bag but on this one occasion I didn’t. Just outside there were some street vendors selling this for a little fortune! Not the ones to fall into these tourist traps we instead got into a tuk tuk and raced back to the hotel. He waited while Joy and Oviyan changed to cover up their legs and then raced back through the traffic of the city.
For some wicked reason it felt nice- for someone else to of another gender to be told what to wear 😊
Back of Beyond - Wild Heaven, Dehigaha Ela, near Sigiriya