Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka was our first stop in our traveling adventures. We directly caught a train to Kandy where we stayed three days. Good time to recover from the jet lag and get used to the heat and humidity, to fell in love with the curry, and to explore the botanic garden and the elephants orphanage. Oh, and to experience our first…scams (The story of the spice garden).
We went up north to Habarana afterwards which is a great location to visit the old ancient cities of Aranadhapurah and Polanaruwa as well as the fascinating Sigiriya rock. This was also a unique opportunity to meet the local fauna of Sri Lanka (The Beauty and the Beast).
We treated ourselves with some beach days on the east coast, in Nilaveli and Passikudah after surviving two suicidal bus drives (Sri Lanka and the Bus of Doom). This part of the island is still very remote and not touristic at all which makes it pretty unique. And the beaches are really amazing. We are definitely not talking about the North Sea of Belgium… Furthermore, we highly enjoyed our break from the noisy and polluted cities. It also reminded us to be cautious when locking our belongings in a safe (Story to come…)
Afterwards, we went back to Kandy, about to take the famous panorama train going to Ella when we realised we had been sold false train tickets. After an intense discussion with the train officer (not to say Emilie was completely freaking out), we got finally refunded, got new tickets, and caught the “right” train. On our way, we made one stop over in Hatton from which we climbed up the Adam’s Peak. The 5th largest mountain in Sri Lanka is of the most popular pilgrimage places and with approximately 5500 steps a real bit**, resulting in one week of stiff and painful legs! Most annoyingly, when returning from the mountain we took a short 5 hours nap during one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys to Ella at the same day. We truly experienced one of Sri Lanka’s most striking natural landmarks without any doubt… (Climbing Adams Peak).
We stayed four days in Ella…the first one chilling on our terrace, legs up to relieve the pain. We went bathing with the locals under beautiful waterfalls, had some nice walks around the area, and chilled, chilled, chilled while eating Nutella Rotees and home-made Guacamole (Home Sweet Home away from Home).
Finally, we moved to the South of the country to enjoy Mirissa beach. Much more touristy but so beautiful, secluded between rocks and coconut trees. This is also where we experienced one of our most beautiful moments on this island, the Fishermen on Stilts. The sunset there remains unforgettable! Additionally, we also survived a burglar breaking into our room during the night while we were sleeping (Hike and Seek) and Emilie gave up eating fresh fish after a bone got stuck in her throat. She had to swallow three balls of rice, three slices of white bread and two whole bananas (in one piece-Holy Shit!) to remove it.
As you might have guessed when reading these lines and the linked articles, Sri Lanka was a very challenging start in our travel for the two fresh backpackers we were. New life, new culture, new rhythm…We had just left everything behind and needed some time to arrive in our new world and most important, to survive without having to swallow bananas in one piece every day! (at least Emilie :D)
Unpacking, repacking, negotiating, finding a place where to sleep, figuring out what to do, organising our days, day after day, dealing with the locals, breathing in exhausts in the city, ignoring the dirt and the trash on the streets, food poisoning from the hygienic food, facing the reality of a new culture and risking our lives in public transportation and so on. We truly felt exhausted, out of our comfort zone, and really asked ourselves if we were able to master this challenge. Finally, our daily routine in Belgium and Switzerland felt not so bad anymore and wished us back in the hamster wheel 🙂
So, let’s say we have a Hate-Love relationship with this country… Its beauty is unquestionable, most of the sceneries are truly amazing and are on the top 3 of places we’ve been so far. As everywhere, locals can be rude or dishonest but also very friendly and welcoming. However, all our experiences as greenhorns made us leave the country with a bitter sweet taste. Importantly, we made it happen and learned from our mistakes for the future travel while we stopped being naive (most of the time at least) and learned how to manage crisis together, hand in hand.