Vacation is over but memories linger.
I will try not to get carried away and reduce the blabber and the storms of thoughts in my head so that I’m able to sum up my vacation, in which I will be surely not giving justice.
I have shared photos on Instagram of food, places and people. Many others were not shared, especially those taken using the camera. As I sort the images now, I recall the memories and the feelings and try to express them here in plain text.
This impulsive trip took a really good turn. It gave me wonderful moments in a breathtaking country (from what I saw and chose to preserve in my memory) for its landscapes, sceneries, people, culture, and of course food. At most times, it took my mind away from all the worries I got there with. I was hungry for new things, for a break from the routine and it was nothing short of that.
I went there alone, but I was rarely by myself. I walked around, interacted with locals, and got introduced to new people from lots of different nationalities. It sounds normal for an experienced traveler, but for me especially in the state of mind I was in, it was an enriching and uplifting adventure.
I wouldn’t mind traveling alone after this experience; I learnt to be open to possibilities, to people, to events. I got myself prepared for things to happen in different ways than what I had planned for, for getting tired, for having to carry that huge bag I got wherever I went (I learnt my lesson now), for getting stomach problems (luckily my stomach is strong enough), catching a rare exotic virus, disease or STD (I didn’t, but thank you Emil for the pleasant thoughts you kept reminding me of), to smelling like curry when I get back (again, EMIL!!!) or any other event that might happen on an adventure like this.
“Take it positively, enjoy your time and make that best out of it.”
That’s what I did.
I relied on TripAdvisor.com for venue recommendations, help, questions and anything that users might have uploaded and found helpful. Airbnb.com to book guesthouses or hostels to stay in. CouchSurfing.org, where I met Benjamin and Hisham who helped me greatly. Withlocals.com although I couldn’t register for anything for credit card issues (THEY DON’T TAKE LEBANON, and we don’t have Paypal) but the website helped me with an idea of places to visit.
I divided my 9-day trip into categories below for easier skimming.
I booked myself a seat at the dinner at CookSpace. We first had a Frozen Garden Gin Tonic.
We had a 4 course dinner made of:
- Yellow Fin Tuna Ceviche, Avocado, with Lime Foam.
- Land and Sea; Flamed Rump Steak, Grilled Koggala Jumbo Prawn, Truffled Sweet Potato, Stuffed Yorkshire Béarnaise.
- Cider Braised Pork Belly with Grilled Apple Slices and meat reduction
- 100% Sri Lankan Chocolate Torte, Salted Caramel and Honeycomb.
I was on a cooking date at the Ebb & Flow. We went grocery shopping then got busy in the kitchen.
Chef Indika cooked Pumpkin Curry, Vegetables with Curry, Rice and Steamed Crabs.
In exchange, I made Tabbouleh, with frizzy parsley and lime. Weirdly I found Burghul (cracked wheat actually) in the breakfast section. It worked fine.
I also made this creamy mushroom Farfalle with the mushrooms I found and with coconut cream. I also tried to make some Arabic bread to go with the olive oil and Zaatar I brought, but the oven didn’t help so Chef Indika cooked them in a pan. They felt similar to Indian bread.
Street food: King Coconut, fruits, Roti, different types of rolls, sweets,…
Buryani: I with a group of Sri Lankan guy and didn’t want to feel like an intruder. I used my right hand to finish my plate. I was quite fast to learn and finish.
Curries, rice, fried rice from random places
Deviled Shrimps: I was told the food is good at the Jungle Beach restaurant. I tried the deviled shrimp, it was spicy and good. Of course, I had my Lion Lager with it.
Grilled Calamari: served with yellow rice and a salad, I was more fascinated by the salad to be honest; cabbage, carrots, red onions and pineapple cubes. The salad was amazing with the pineapple cubes. Lion Lager too *wink*
Sizzling Shrimp & Chickpeas cooked the Chinese way: we asked for the mild spiciness and still it was too spicy afterwards. This time I had the Lion Stout.
Cashew Chicken, fried white fish and vegetable spring rolls: another good meal at Royal Bar with draft beer.
Sticky toffee from Sunil Garden
I treated myself to (not as awesome and more expensive) fish and chips at WIP at the Dutch Hospital in Colombo during the last few hours before leaving
- Unawatuna, beach, festival & Temple
- Jungle Beach (that’s not quiet the beach, but check the food of Jungle beach above)
- Midigama (Ebb & Flow)
- Galle Fort
- Wood carving workshop
- Lankatilaka Vihara
- Gadaladeniya Temple
- Temple of the Sacred Tooth
- Highland No.25 Spice Garden
- Royal Botanical Garden
- Cultural Dance Show
- Royal Pub and Hotel
- Sigiriya rock
- Kandy Lake
- Colombo train station
- Colombo City
Only late I realized I didn’t take photos of or with the people I met and spent time with. But I have to say I really enjoyed my time with:
Anastasia, the fabulous Spartan girl whom I had a really nice talk with over dinner & up till now, Marta and Michele, Poland and Italy, whom I spent one days with at the beach and the fort, all of them whom I met at the CookSpace dinner,
Piyal the Villa keeper and his nice little family,
Verity from Ebb & Flow, New Zealand, she helped even before I got there and I’m thankful for her bearing with my hesitation, Mariam, Aisha and Afra from India, and Chef Indika at Ebb & Flow where we shared an international meal cooked by Chef Indika and I
Srija and the boys from the beach who were nice and offered to give me a ride to Kandy
Benjamin from Kandy who helped me greatly before and through the trip as well as showing me around great places in the city
Hisham from Kandy whom I never got to meet but helped me greatly as well through texts before and throughout the trip
Leo and Youna, French, whom I met briefly and listened to them sing under the stars, Sajid and Jimmy, from Jordan, whom I had friends in common and spent the following day with
Lucas, Swiss, Anthony, Morgane and Youssra, French, whom I had a nice chat with in the nights at the Kandy City Hostel
Galle: a walk inside the fort walls is great. I took the walk with Michele & Marta while it was raining; it was calm and quiet with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants to visit. We had a nice dinner at one of the local restaurants.
Jungle Beach: as the name suggests, you have to pass through a jungle, by foot, to get to this beach. It is a small and quiet shore away from the crazy waves of the ocean
Unawatuna festival and temple: I was there during the festival where the street was lined side by side with vendors of all sorts; plastics, sweets, fruits, fried food, and food carts and trucks on the beach. You can walk through the crowds to get to the beach and visit the colorfully lit temple on the beach
Ebb & Flow Jungalows: Had a cooking date. It was amazing. The place is wonderful and I bet a night there would have been amazing
Unawatuna Beach: if it wasn’t for the festival, a day at the beach would have been amazing with the numerous restaurants and tourists filled venues the line the beach
Gadaladeniya Temple: An old temple in the city with lots of fascinating patterns inside the small temples. They charge a 300 rupees as entrance fee for the inside temple.
Wood carving factory: a magnificent area with lots of beautiful carved wood statues and figures. We didn’t buy anything because prices are high and very tourist-y.
Tea Factory: Take a short tour in the tea factory and se the steps and methods used to produce different types of teas. You’re taken to the boutique where you can select from a big range of teas.
Lankatilaka Vihara: Another temple with beautiful paintings and architecture for a 300 Rupees entrance. Take your time and take in all the patterns and colors around you.
Highland No. 25 Spice Garden: You are given a tour around the garden with guide speaking the language you choose to introduce you to the different types of herbs, spices and trees. You are then introduced to the products made from herbs and spices. You can ask for a massage (around 30 minutes massage) where they use some of the products on you. The massage includes face, head, shoulders, arms and calves. It’s relaxing and refreshing.
Then you’re taken to the boutique to buy spices and their herbal treatments.
Royal Botanical Garden: This is not something you should do in a hurry. An hour and a half is not enough, especially that you’re charged around 1100 Rupees entrance fee. You need time to enjoy the cactus and orchid house and take an overwhelming walk around the large garden and observe the huge variety of trees. Had I had the time, I would have spent a whole day there, maybe relax under a tree and read until dark.
Cultural Dance Show: Watch it to get a glimpse of the traditional beats, costumes and dance moves. I wasn’t very impressed by the show. It is nice to watch but don’t expect too much.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth: A wonderful temple with lots of colorful paintings and patterns. I could have spent hours taking in all the patterns and drawings of this highly appreciated temple.
Dambulla: home of the largest cave temples. A short hike and you’re rewarded with wall paintings and statues of Buddha in well preserved large mountain caves. I only passed by for lack of time.
Sigiriya: be sure not to miss it. Get your walking shoes on and start climbing those countless stairs to the top of the rock. You will be rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding area. It’s breathtaking.
Royal Bar & Hotel: I went to this place twice in a row for dinner, I liked the food and the drinks. The ambience is cool as well. It is not crowded neither with tourists nor with locals, it had a good blend of both. An order of 2 dishes and one side order and beers could cost around $20 including tips and service charges.
Kandy Lake: take a walk around the lake (day or night, it should be amazing) or sit on the benches around the lake and enjoy the view.
On the last day, I took the train to Colombo. I left my bag at the station, went around in the area around the station, vegetables market, Central Bank area and The Dutch Hospital. It wasn’t my favorite.
The food. I felt I always wanted to eat more and try more things, more than I can take. I had fried food overload; rotti and egg rolls.
The people. Friendly people always smiling at you, waving, posing in front of the camera, sometimes starting a conversation and at some cases offering a ride to save your time on the bus or train.
The beach. Jungle beach was calm and pretty. The food there is good too and reasonably prices.
The Temples. Patterns everywhere. Tiles. I was overwhelmed by all the colors and the patterns.
There are lots of stories to share but it is already too much for a post. Sorting the photos was a really hard task; to narrow the visuals while still pushing the experience across.
I have to thank Verity for giving me a mantra:
“I Only Meet Good People” Keep it in mind and be smart about things.
It helped a lot.
I advise you to go. If you like to take such an experience, don’t hesitate. Be adventurous.
Eat from shops on the street. Buy fruits from street vendors and eat them.
Don’t miss a thing.
Enjoy your time.
Check my Instagram account for photos I posted while I was in Sri Lanka and for more food photos