If you asked me in the summer of 2014 what I knew about Sri Lanka I honestly wouldn’t have had a lot to say. I knew it was the little tear drop off of India but that is about it, and that is more knowledge than most Americans have about the country. So of course when my friend asked me if I wanted to join her, her Fiance, and Sister to Sri Lanka over Christmas/ New Years 2014-2015 I immediately said yes! Not knowing anything about a country has never been a reason for me to not want to explore it!
Since I was meeting my Kiwi friend and assorted crew there (same ones from my New Orleans Adventures) we only skype-d once or twice before the trip to talk about some places we wanted to see. As Sri Lanka was the first more developing country I was going to and my friend’s had been around South East Asia a bit I left the general plan to them as I trusted their guidance and they seemed to have a pretty good itinerary of places to check out. As it turns out a week or so before we were to depart my friend’s Fiance broke most of himself in a mountain biking accident. So it ended up being a girls trip with my friend, her sister, and I.
As the trip was coming up I had a guide book, flights, and some assorted supplies that a friend who went for work once suggested and I was ready for my trip or so I thought. As per my usual routine I had ordered local currency so I would have cash on arrival, and knew where I was staying and how much the taxi would cost to get there. I wanted to double make sure I was clear on this information as I was getting in quite late at night after over 20 hours of flying. And as far as I knew I was set, get in, get delivered to my hostel via taxi, sleep a few hours, and then off on our adventures we would go. Of course nothing goes as simple as one would hope. Of course the hostel was slightly out of the general line of sight and the taxi driver didn’t know where it was and couldn’t read a map so after maybe 45 minutes of circling the area, the cab driver calling the hostel, and asking random people we found it. We were had been a block away on the wrong street…. As I quickly learned things will not always go as you plan especially in Sri Lanka.
The rest of our trip continued on with bumps an hiccups along the way. Driving to Kandy took forever due to the rains and it being a weekend. Our hotel in Kandy was another whole debacle, not only was it far from downtown Kandy there was a whole issue with the lock on the door that in retrospect was a hilariously solved debacle (the owner literally used a saw to make the door fit and lock!!). We were there during an intense rain season and there had been a ton of flooding so many activities we had wanted to do we had to skip. This is where I was happy I was traveling with my friends as they had only booked us places to stay a day or two in advance so we could be flexible and it was well worth it.
After a few days in the rain exploring what we could of the interior of Sri Lanka we hightailed it for the coast after a stop at Yala National Park. (We got to see Elephants on our Safari which was awesome) We were sick of being damp and cold as we were not amazingly prepared for the miserable weather. The ocean was a much more enjoyable place. We attempted to surf, or should I say my friends surfed and I attempted to. I got burned on the muffler of one of the scooters we rented. We went to a million gem stores for my friend to find stones for her Fiance to make her wedding ring with. The whole crazy New Years night from this post happened. We learned about the politics of Sri Lanka as we were there right before a big election. We enjoyed meeting locals and drinking the local Lion Beer. It was pretty grand.
We all agreed that even though we had no real plans to return before we came that we would all go back. Sri Lanka is a wonderful country that I can only imagine how much it has changed in the few years since I was there. Also while Sri Lanka is a close neighbor to India my friend’s sister was expecting it to be more like India but she noted that Sri Lanka (at least what we saw) was much cleaner and a bit more orderly. Which I would say makes sense since it is a smaller country. Since it takes time to explore due to the roads (and the weather) there is so much I would like to come back to do and see. The North was only newly open to tourists when I went so it would be so amazing to go back and explore Jaffa and the surrounding areas. Sri Lanka is a beautiful and unique country and I highly suggest a visit.