Ah Sri Lanka! It’s tropical beaches, lush green tea lands and ancient structures. It has something for everyone and in recent years, with the civil war at an end, has opened its doors far wider to tourism. Visiting during January 2016 with my three-year-old daughter, husband and an 18-week pregnant self, I jotted down some of the sights and smells of Sri Lanka as I experienced them with my family. I wanted to bottle what I saw: it is a climate and culture so different from my own. For those of you who haven’t been to Sri Lanka before, this may help give you a vision of the country. For those who have, may it transport you back.
1. Looking up at the many palm trees which line the roads and peeking the orange King coconuts, orange versions of the fruit, unique to Sri Lanka.
2. My daughter excitedly pointing out the coconut trees as we drive past them.
3. The distinctive whistle of the bread van which permeates through the air as night falls.
4. Beautifully presented (and tasting) fresh fruit.
5. The smell of fish wafting through our tuk tuk as we drive past the roadside stalls in Weligama.
6. Drinking endless glasses of coconut water (and not paying a fortune for them).
7. Surfers getting lessons or trying to catch waves on the southern beaches of Mirissa and Weligama.
8. The warm humid air wafting in your face as you sit in the back of a tuk tuk.
9. The delight and squeals of joy from my daughter as we cram into the back of a noisy tuk tuk (complete with pushchair) and it zooms as fast as it can go, the smell of fuel never far away, it’s engine straining as it climbs hills and attempts to take over vehicles far larger (and faster) than it.
10. Watching fireflies flicker on and off, on and off and the delight on my daughter’s face as she spots them
11. Walking amongst the tea plantations. The sweet, honey smell drifting upon the air as we wander through the green trees.
12. Eating breakfast in the calm surroundings of the tea hills while drinking its produce.
13. Seeing Adams peak from afar as dusk falls, surrounded by tea trees after an afternoon of hiking with new friends.
14. Eating delicious spicy curries and string hoppers.
15. The somewhat terrifying roads of Sri Lanka as each vehicle jostles for position: cars overtake buses, buses overtake buses, tuk tuks attempt to take on any vehicle it can. The only inevitable victory for them are pedestrians and cyclists.
16. The bumpy, well-worn primitive roads which seemed to go on forever as we descent down from the tea plantations towards the southern shores.
17. My husband having to buy a sarong in order to get into the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy.
18. Learning more about Buddhism at the Temple of the Tooth and a reminder of Sri Lanka’s more recent past as the scars of a bomb planted by the Tamil Tigers is pointed out by our guide.
19. Watching the sunsets on Sri Lanka’s southern beaches
20. The many stray dogs which roam the streets and the odd beach as dusk sets in.
21. The drum beat echoing through the hills of the tea plantations and going on through the night as the Tamil community celebrate Thai Pongal.
22. Coming across Thai Pongal celebrations as we wander through a tiny village in the tea hills.
23 The elaborate traditional costumes of the Kandyan dancers, bells jingling, drums beating as they perform.
24. The fearless fire eaters and smell of gasoline as they perform stunts to a captive audience who gasp with amazement as they walk across hot coals with ease.
25. Seeing the influences of various European powers which have occupied Sri Lanka as we explore the colonial city of Galle.
Have you been to Sri Lanka? What are your memories of the country?
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