One Week in Sri Lanka: A Recap

Today marks the end of the first week of my three-week trip in Sri Lanka. Unbelievable! As gentle and peaceful as this country seems, traveling through it is a constant adventure. I feel like the impressions I’ve made in the past week could last a whole month.

Borrowing from the guys over at For 91 Days, here’s the condensed version of first impressions:

Most Memorable
Holding a newly-hatched baby turtle in my palm. As a kid, one of my favorite books was about sea turtles and the incredible struggle they go through to reach the ocean and survive. More than fifteen years later, I still couldn’t contain my excitement as I approached the water tank. BABY TURTLES!!!!!!!!!! Squeals. I’m pretty sure I broke the 22 year-old hatchery’s record of Longest Time Spent Photographing Baby Turtles, if such a thing ever existed. Baby turtle photo galore coming soon. You know you’re excited!

Favorite Food
It’s pretty hard to beat rice and curry, especially when it comes with a giant plate of fragrant rice and at least four different curries each time. Sour mango curry, jackfruit curry, dal lentil curry, coconut curry, chicken curry, fish curry, egg curry, pumpkin curry, even garlic curry… the possibilities are endless! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that you can get all of this for approximately 130 LKR or 1 USD at a typical stall.

Most Surprising
Folks here eat rice with their fingers, 100% of the time. If you are imagining loose rice falling out of your fingers all the time, you have the right idea. Unfortunately for me, when in Rome….

Most Disappointing
The hill country town of Ella. It was recommended by everyone as a backpacker favorite, and I was told about the stunning hikes, waterfalls, trails, and peaks. Well, it turned out to be a backpacker central in the worst way possible — too many tourist-centric businesses, lack of character, disappointing waterfalls, and generally just blah.

Funniest/Weirdest
Trying out the whole “will work for room” set up. In the past seven days, I’ve stayed at everything from a fancy boutique resort hotel to a small family-run home stay, all in exchange for photography and social media help. It’s nice to trade services for goods, but it definitely adds a level of stress and responsibility. After this week, I probably won’t do this again, unless it happens to be an Ayurvedic spa hotel.

Also…. accidentally hitchhiking a motorbike, truck, and tuk-tuk in one afternoon. That was pretty funny. The worst part was when I got onto the truck and then realized it was going at 15mph due to the load of bricks and the hilly ascent. After mentally comparing Jogging Michelle in the Mountains and 15-mph Snailspeed Truck in a side-by-side comparison, I decided to stay put in the passenger seat. Not a bit of regret.

Sri Lanka in Three Words
Friendliness, curry, Buddhism.

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4 responses to “One Week in Sri Lanka: A Recap

  1. I saw that you are to Sri Lanka in October. I will be tnere this month as well. Do you recommend to book my accommodation ahead (via online or phone) or since it’s off peak just look around when I get there? I’ve asked some places and they gave me $20-22 a day since I’m traveling solo. Your insight would help a lot. Cheers!

    • Hi Newbie, I am traveling solo on a budget, too. I’ve been able to get 1500rp for a private double ensuite (without bfast, sometimes with wifi and/or hot water) all over the island, but found that places like Kandy, Ella, and Sigiriya required more haggling than others. Availability overall was never an issue, though sometimes my top picks were in fact full when I arrived. If you know you’ll be somewhere, it never hurts to call a day in advance to check. The places I enjoyed staying at were: Sincere Wilderness in Nuwara Eliya (search on Facebook for their contact), Sarra’s Guesthouse in Jaffna, Hotel Shalini in Anuradhapura (ask for Rameez) and if you feel like splurging, Mountain Heavens in Ella. Either way I definitely recommend going up to Mountain Heavens for a beer just to enjoy the amazing view of Ella Gap, especially at sunrise. Just breathtaking. If you have other questions, feel free to ask!

      • Thanks a lot for the insight! Few days before my trip I have it all planned (only to be changed!) hahaha. I guess coming from the backpacking heaven Thailand you get to be stingy a bit. Thanks again!

      • Ah! Are you in Bangkok? I just arrived this morning. If you want to meet up and exchange some travel info, feel free to give me a call (0926-987-160). Either way, have a good time in SL!

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