Before I travelled to Sri Lanka, I had never set foot on soil outside of Europe. I’d had my fair share of adventures in Greece, France, Spain and so on but never anywhere slightly more off the beaten track. Then my best friend moved to Sri Lanka and suddenly a world of possibilities opened up – I mean it would have been rude not to visit if my best friend lived there, right?! So, I packed my rucksack, grabbed my friend and hopped on a plane and to be honest, I wish I’d never had to come back!
So, come on then, “What’s so great about Sri Lanka?”, I hear you ask. It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing, it has everything you could want from a destination, from pristine beaches, exotic wildlife and delectable foods. The beauty of Sri Lanka lies in its charm, the geniality of the locals and the fact that it is, so far, remarkably untouched by mass tourism.
The thing that instantly struck me from the get-go was the warmth of the people I met. It’s evident there is a genuine pride and love for their country; from the desire to teach you their history, to demonstrating their culture and introducing you to their foods. We travelled across the country with a wonderful man named Raj, whose enthusiasm about Sri Lanka was infectious. He made us stop at seemingly random points along the road where he would show us cotton plants and fruit trees and introduce us to locals who found us fresh coconuts to drink. We had a strict plan, but Raj was determined not to stick to it, wanting us to experience as much as we possibly could in the time we had.
One thing that cannot be ignored about Sri Lanka is the food! My goodness, the food was outstanding – what a revelation. The flavours, the textures, the local ingredients. Our first meal was in what appeared to be someone’s own home (a Raj find) and we were introduced to 10 different dishes, all a delicious combination of spices and tastes. Throughout our time we tried several national dishes, some more tempting than others, but nevertheless, each was a taste sensation.
During my far too brief visit, I was lucky enough to go to some amazing places and Sigiriya rock was a particular highlight. This huge orange rock can be seen for miles and is the stuff of legends, supposedly home to a king who settled on this rock to try and prevent being overthrown. We visited temple after temple, each as fascinating as the one before and all full of vibrant colours, decadent statues, and a unique story to tell.
But by far the best thing I did and honestly one of my all-time favourite memories from all my travels, was a train journey from Kandy to Ella. I know, I know, a train journey?! But this is no ordinary train, this 6-hour journey takes you through the tea fields and the breathtaking valleys across Sri Lanka. On the train, they have observation sections, and this is the truly magical thing- you can sit here with your feet dangling out of the train and feel the world literally whizz by under your feet. The sensation is unforgettable, as the world just flies past you and the air whistles alongside you, locals cheering as you pass through the tunnels. It is a sensory sensation and undoubtedly, the best thing I’ve ever done.
Sri Lanka honestly changed the way I viewed travel. To me, a holiday no longer had to be 2 weeks on a beach or topping up a tan by the pool. A holiday could be an adventure, a time for discovery and opening yourself up to new cultures and life-changing experiences. To this day if I am asked my favourite place I have ever been to, Sri Lanka ranks number one every single time. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel the same too? You know what they say, you’ll never know until you try it… Head over and check out our Sri Lanka itinerary here – https://www.traveleyes-international.com/holidays/sri-lanka/