Just a picture of a happy girl on a happy island! When I travel, I love exploring places that satisfy my need for nature, culture and culinary exploration - with sustainable alternatives to explore it all of course! I had no idea what to expect before visitng Sri lanka but I was blown away but all aspects of the country, so here are my top 5:
You cannot got to Sri Lanka and taste bad food. I honestly think that might be impossible. And I'm talking beyond taste. This was the first country outside of North America or western Europe where I didn't have some type of "negative side effect" after consuming food/beverages. From fresh fruits, to street food, to top notch restaurants, my stomach remained neutral. YES! Not to mention, everything I tried was absolutely delicious.
The main dish that you will find almost anywhere in the country is Sri Lankan-style CURRY of course. This is a terrific country to visit for vegetarians. As my diet is mainly vegetarian, the vegetarian curry was a staple for me (I had it for most dinners) and it included dahl made from yellow lentils, another onion-based barbeque-y dish or dahl (someone with some advanced culinary knowledge please feel free to give me the correct terminology) and other curry-flavored vegetable assortments. As for the "spice level," that is your decision (and locals will always ask lol). Ok, maybe that is the only thing I regret: I might have went toooo spicey...just once, ha!
I don't eat meat (see benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet), so I can offer no feedback on meat dishes, but if you eat fish, you will not be disappointed as well. Being next to the sea has its advantages. The sautéed shrimp and grilled fish and lobster was truly a delicacy at a very small price. One afternoon, we were invited to our "neighbor's" home to eat the lobster he had just caught that morning. He said we were in luck because he caught four that day, and for the past week, he hadn't caught any. We were grateful to be able to share this meal with him (and he and his daughter prepared it beautifully)! It is also our neighbor who introduced me to a new fruit (one of many new fruits I discovered on the island) called Wood apples. It tastes a bit like a prune and was delicious in smoothie form. Local smoothies are called "Laissies" and are usually mixed with milk curd. Note: this is ridiculously delicious and a must-try. That same afternoon, my neighbor took me to the market to try some other fruits because I was just so impressed (hence, my big smile on the back of his motorcycle).
2) ISOLATED BEACHES
One thing I cannot stand (and I know this will sound hypocritical, being a tourist after all) are places riddled with tourists! lol especially beaches. I want to swim and tan in peace and security darn it. Well, the southern coast of Sri Lanka was definitely the place. Our beach hotel was located right on the beach of Tangalle, 10km outside the town of the same name. Hours passed before I would see any other tourists. It felt as if the beach belonged to me (and the beach dogs); It was perfect. Apparently, beaches on the east coast of the island are just as amazing and isolated as well, since rebuilding has taken place in the region after their long civil war. Forget man-made, resource-draining pools for a bit and enjoy the ocean!
3) CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Preserving and celebrating cultural diversity is at the heart of sustainable societies. Different cultures, languages and perspectives promote education, global citizenship and respect for others. It has also been argued (successfully, in my opinion) that cultural aspects promote all other sustainability focus areas, such as the 2030 SDG goals.
My mouth was wide open while witnessing all the sights and sounds of Buddhist and Hindu temples and their public street celebrations. The country is majority Buddhist, but there are large Hindu and Muslim communities as well. All existing one next to the other.
Of course, Sri Lankan history hasn't always been like this (I encourage you to read up on their 20+ year civil war), but serious efforts have been made on all sides. The temples you will see are colorful and well maintained. However, just the detail and architecture of Buddhist and Hindu temples really spoke to me, I suppose because they aren't often seen in western countries.
When I think of Sri Lanka now, I think of amazing greenery and vast wildlife. The mountainous region of Ella has some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. From the waterfalls, to the tea fields to the vast stretches of hiking hills. On the coasts you have golden beaches that span for miles, all bordered by imperfect palm trees, zigzagging about in their own way. On a typical walk around town, you can cross a komodo dragon, various species of monkeys.
Even on the highway, you may drive past an elephant (unfortunately) on its way to some temple or ceremony for "traditional use". Never a dull moment. But it also reminds me of how much their is to protect because all of these natural wonders, like anywhere else, are under threat.
5) The PEOPLE
What would my trip have been without the beautiful people of Sri Lanka? Their physical beauty, their genuine kindness and vibrant culture. The connections I made on this island are truly what make me want to return. Meet some of my new, beautiful friends, Chami (left), a local surfer and kind spirit who loves meeting people of all cultures, and Rana, an amazing cook and patient woman who helped me dress this beautiful Saree.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!