A Magical Place in Asia.
Sri Lanka was a country that surprised me in a pleasant way. With charming cities and towns, and the kindest people, along with beautiful-green-lush surroundings it was hard to not love it. My only wish was that I stayed in Nuwara Eliya a little longer, it was the place that I enjoyed the most – so different from the other places we went.
Day 1 – Wednesday July 6 – ABU DHABI to COLOMBO to KANDY
We arrived in Colombo at 6:30AM, a later landing as our flight was delayed 1.5 hour leaving from Abu Dhabi (as usual). We got our visa and passed through immigration, collected our baggage and attempted to freshen up in a small not-so-clean bathroom. In the van to start tour at 7:30, but only after meeting our guide who asked for payment before a hello…
We went to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. It was not at all what I had expected. Where it was more of a zoo with entrance fees for a show, than paying for the actual proper care of orphaned elephants. It was nice, however, to see them bring the elephants to the river to bathe.
We sat down at a restaurant overlooking the river to attempt breakfast but nothing peaked our interest, so how’s convenience store crackers and candy for a breakfast of champions on the road at 10:30AM?
In the middle of eating our “breakfast” we stopped at a herbal gardens for a spice and herbs tour. It was interesting and the man leading the tour was a good laugh, especially when he spoon fed Tammy, only God knows what, and decided to try a natural hair removal remedy on my legs (that I promise you did not need it at the time).
From there we went to the Royal Botanical Garden Peradeniya, we spent two hours there walking around and climbing trees.
The most – hmm how to put nicely – challenging part of the first day, which we are able to laugh about now, was our stop for lunch at a hotel. It was a buffet where the food had probably been sitting out for hours. Where the skim milk was actually skinned milk, peeling off the top layer dried before our eyes. In any scenario a nice beverage would maybe help our spirits, but it was Eid (the end of Ramadan) and there was no liquor being served. Regardless, we ate and we laughed and we moved on. We checked into our hotel in Kandy! Very cute, older with character (maybe a little spooky). Showered and napped before dinner (with no wine being served). In bed and tucked in early!
Day 2 – Thursday July 7 – KANDY to NUWARA ELIYA
We woke at 6:45, ready for breakfast at 7:30. Ate and checked out by 8:15. We went to the Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
. The outside of the temple disguises the beauty of the gold and ivory inside, as well as the peacefulness of walking through the sacred building.
After walking around Kandy lake (near where the temple is located), we were back in the car to drive to the gem shop in the town of Kandy. What a pleasant surprise this stop was! We spent nearly two hours there looking at sapphires under magnifying lenses, weighing gems, and trying on (basically every single) ring(s). Splurged and treated myself to a yellow sapphire ring 🙂
Back in the van at 12:00 to head towards our next destination via the windiest and tiniest roads up the mountain. We stopped at the Tea Bush Hotel restaurant in the town of Ramboda, ate lunch overlooking the waterfalls, lakes and valley of green.
We snuck in a tour of a tea factory, Mackwoods. Originally established by the British and now owned by a Sri Lankan, the tea factory and fields are over 170 years old. Learned that a lot of time and work goes in to that cup of tea that you enjoy so quick and easily.
We made it to our hotel, St. Andrews Jetwing, in Nuwara Eliya. Walked to town to try and find shops, but
unsuccessful in the shopping. It was still interesting to get out and see things ourselves. Nuwara Eliya is nicknamed “Little England”, with the coolest climate in Sri Lanka and nearly 2,000m above sea level. The ‘cold’ weather was a nice change and surroundings were so green and lush, not only growing tea leaves but fruit, vegetables and flowers.
We had our priorities in order and went to the hotel bar for our (well deserved & long awaited) wine.
We had dinner in the hotel and attempted to sit in the lounge area for drinks, nearly turning into ice cubes as the place had only space heaters and the outdoor temperature was 11°C (our Abu Dhabi bodies could not cope).
So instead we cuddled up in our PJs and girl-talked in our rooms. Slept with the heat on all night for the first time in months, so strange!!
Day 3 – Friday July 8 – NUWARA ELIYA to NEGUMBO
Woke at 7:00 to the sound of rain! Had breakfast in the hotel and started the days tours by 8:15.
Stopped to see Seetha Amman Temple. We decided not to tour inside and instead enjoyed the beauty of it from outside… and also admired the monkeys. There was time to walk around another botanical gardens (Hakgala Botanical Gardens), but we timed it with a gigantic student group and it was raining so we passed on the opportunity. On our drive back to Colombo we stopped for photos at two waterfalls, and for drinks at a hotel restaurant right along the river (I think this is where I was eaten alive by mosquitos).
Made it to the big city, Colombo. After being in the “country” and small towns for the previous two days it was strange to see proper roads, traffic lights and high rise buildings. Drove past the Gangarama Temple (but didn’t go in because our bladders were bursting hehe). The streets of downtown were cute and some of the buildings are built around trees and plants in the middle of the roads.
Of course we got our shopping in and then drove to Negumbo for our overnight hotel at Paradise Beach. We went for a walk to the beach, which sadly was a disappointment – the beaches were dirty and polluted.
Ate dinner at the hotel and drank the strongest long island iced-tea I have ever had. Sat outside (again eaten by mosquitos) and talked until bed.
Day 4 – Saturday July 9 – NEGUMBO to COLOMBO to ABU DHABI
Slept in!!… Until 9am… Ate our breakfast and then back to our rooms to get ready for the pool! We sat outside for a couple of hours, spending more time watching the sky, hoping for no rain (and not getting any!) than anything else. Back to our rooms to
shower and pack.
Thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk and find the most westernized thing in Sri Lanka that we had seen, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. The most eye opening part of the trip for me was this walk. Making our way past the homes of families that are four small walls with a tin roof, with no plumbing (learned this by way of a woman dumping her waste next to where we were walking) and no electricity, I realized the extent of the poverty in the country. So strange to see a business so westernized sitting amongst the homes lining the streets.
We realized we were walking the wrong direction so we took a tuk tuk back the right way. Had our lunch and made our way back to the hotel to head to the airport. Thankfully we were there early because we had to go through a million (only four) security checks before boarding the plane back to Abu Dhabi.