Since I lost my phone in Taiwan in June, I learned an important lesson:
If you want to keep your beautiful pictures from traveling, you have to do a backup! I lost most of my pictures from my travels to Sri Lanka and Nepal and I am still sad about it.
They were so precious, but now I always do a backup at least.
Even though with only 2 pictures, I am introducing you a country which is more than extraordinary to me.
I will share my experiences traveling the country as a female solo backpacker.
I went to Sri Lanka and even my way to Sri Lanka was a highlight on itsown.
On the airplane to this amazing country, I sat next to an American pastor from New Jersey. We talked throughout the flight about life, religion, philosophy, values and our ideals.
At the end of my flight he told me that Jesus would love me and put a huge amount of money in my backpack. I am sad until today that I hardly know anything about him, I just remember his face and the faces from his 2 children with his wife, since he showed me a photo of them.
So this was my start to Sri Lanka, straight at the airport I bought a
SIM-card with internet, but the Internet didn’t work well in the majority of cases. I asked the sellers to call me a taxi, but they recommended me to download the PickMe App (the Sri Lankan Uber I guess) and they would talk with the driver. I got out of the airport and the driver already waited for me.
On our way to my lovely friend Isuru, we talked about India and he advised me not to go to India, even Sri Lankans wouldn’t go there.
Too late, I went in August the same year to India.
It got weird, because my taxi driver shared his whole life stories with me while pointing at Sri Lankan chubby men and said:
“Look at their big and fat bellys hahaha”.
When you are traveling you have to face a lot of weird things, believe me! In this situation, just stay kind even if you are contemplating in your head if he might be wrong in the garret.
I stayed kind but didn’t say anything, he drove me safe and cheap to Isuru’s home.
Here I have to mention a beautiful person who came into my life last year and someone I am proud of to call one my closest friends now: Isuru.
I hope you will read it. During my trip in Sri Lanka he was more than helpful, but our talks until the small hours are unforgettable.
We clicked instantly and it feels like Isuru is the boy version of me.
Seriously, through him I just started to love this country more and more.
Thank you, Isuru! Without your help and motivation I wouldn’t have had such a tremendous time in Sri Lanka.
And guess who visited me by the end of May in Bali! – Yes, Isuru!
Sometimes it is not about how long you know someone in your life,
but it is about how deep the connections are to this person.
Another human-being who is vital to me is Ashvini.
We have been friends since elementary school and Sri Lanka will always have a noticeable place in my heart because of her.
I see her family as my own family and the reason to love this country even more is my precious relationship to my longest friend in my life.
So I stayed in Colombo for 5 days and Isuru showed me around.
To be honest, most Asian capitals are NOT fancy, so imagine how much I dig Colombo. No wonder many travelers just stay there for taking a rest and then use it as a springboard to explore Sri Lanka.
But travelers have to depend on Colombo’s convenient interchange and travel hub. It is easier to travel from the capital to anywhere in Sri Lanka.
Isuru gave me a contact of one of his friends close to Kandy.
His friend was living in Peradeniya, somewhere in the lush vegetation of a hill with a huge family. Actually he didn’t live there anymore and just came back to visit his family. I stayed there for one night, it was freezing cold in the evening! Kandy’s area in general is cooler than the other parts of Sri Lanka due to its location in the midst of hills in the plateu.
Nuwara Eliya and Ella are just perfect cooling places.
The next day I was visiting Kandy. Kandy in April is breathtaking and it was the last residence and capital of the ancient kings’ era.
I walked straight to Kandy Lake and enjoyed a the hazy breeze in my hair after busy traffic days in Colombo.
Peacefully and happily I walked into the Temple of The Tooth, one of the most sacred places of worship for Buddhists.
My heart beat quicker as I stepped forward to the temple, which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha.
Fortune smiled upon me and before I realized what was happening, I was already inside of the temple and didn’t pay any entrance fee.
Until today I am still wondering about it, but the fortune wouldn’t leave me for my whole trip in Sri Lanka.
I just made a research and entrance fee would be 1000 Sri Lankan Rupees (6,5$). Everything can be explored by foot while you enjoy observing local people’s lives.
I took on the same day the bus to Dambulla, 72 km (45 miles) north of Kandy. Excited to see my next World Heritage Site: Dambulla Cave Temple, I tried to find a bus which goes to Dambulla but I couldn’t read anything. Luckily the first man I asked for help could speak fluently English and was very helpful. He brought me to the right bus.
On the bus I got a comfy place to sit on, but the bus rides are not that comfortable usually, which I was going to experience firsthand later.
I fell asleep on the bus, but the man who helped me told the driver to drop me off in Dambulla timely. Here I am, in Dambulla!
I tried to walk from the bus station to the Cave Temple, gave up after 10 minutes and took a tuk-tuk for the rest of a mile.
The bold tuk-tuk driver demanded at the end double of the origin price.
I was too exhausted to bargain and I had enough luck so far, so I gave him the money without any complains.
At the entrance I got to see a huge golden Buddha in front of me and the first impression left me speechless. Walking up the stairs you got to see on the first stop an amazing view of the Buddha and Dambulla’s surrounding. I walked more up and finally I arrived at the Cave Temple.
Taking off the shoes and walking in 34 degrees (93 Fahrenheit) is definitely painful, but what you got to see will make you feel everything was worth it!
Gautama Buddha’s life are related in the paintings of the five caves, which contains statues, too. In total there are 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of deities.
I felt peaceful, even though I sweated for the first time in Sri Lanka like hell. I couldn’t ask for more and just flourishing fully in my happiness and the wonders of our world.
Fact: 70 percent of Sri Lankans confess to Buddhism, which was introduced to Sri Lanka probably in the second century BCE. Most of them belong to the Sinhalese ethnic group.
Despite the Sri Lankan Civil War, people are genuine and polite to me.
Once I looked lost or confused, someone would come and try their best to help me.
A place is for me only as special as its people, so Sri Lanka does.
Groggy and tired I tried to find my stay which I booked on the same day on booking.com.
I can higly recommend everyone to stay at the family business running accommodation called ‘Pawana Rest’.
But seriously, contact the family to pick you up somewhere or at least take a tuk-tuk to get to this place, it is difficult to find and I tried to approach it by foot until I got chased by an aggressive dog – I walked into the wrong place.
Running as fast as I can and back on the street I beg a tuk-tuk driver to bring me there, since I would never go back to this alley by myself again.
I knew also this was the only way to get to the accommodation.
He drove me there and he didn’t want any money, but I still gave him a tip for saving my life from this dog.
The place was comfy but without air-conditioner, way too hot!
The boy of the family is very talkative and tried to improve his English.
He will help you with many things and he has the dream to become a doctor one day to save people’s life. Even though I forgot his name, he will stay forever in my memories. Ask them to cook dinner for you.
You have to pay for it. It was for sure the best dinner I had in Sri Lanka, full of fresh herbs and many dishes to try.
The next day the father brought me to the bus station.
So I could go to Anuradhapura, my next World Heritage Site. Anuradhapura is famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization.
On the bus I stood up the whole way and every bend the driver made, I was hoping that the ride would stop soon. The bus was filled in every corner with passengers, that’s how you make money in Asia!
I would suggest you to carry your backpack in the front and not at the back.
Arrived in Anuradhapura I wished I could have back the weather in Dambulla. The ancient city welcomed me with a big hug of 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) and absolute humidity.
I already like at this time tropical and hot weather but the weather there was seriously over the top.
I hired the next tuk-tuk driver I saw and we went to all sacred places in Anuradhapura. We visited:
- Folk Museum showcases the archaeology of Anuradhapura.
- The Bodhi Tree Temple, which is a cutting from the original Bodhi Tree where the Buddha gained enlightenment. Shoes will be left at the entrance and bags will be checked. It is very busy with worshipers and monks, but you will surely find a place somewhere to relax and to assimilate to your terrific and historical surrounding.
- The Citadel
- Ruwanwelisaya, the oldest and voluminous stupa wasn’t always painted in the colour of white. Here also shoes off.
- Jetavanaramaya, a beautiful, large stupa which is sacred to Buddhists.
- Lovamahapaya, all the stone pillars are left from the Brazen palace, which was a monastery where thousands of monks resided.Fortune was kind to me, later Isuru surprisingly told me tourists have to pay a 25 USD ticket for a day admission to all the sites of Anuradhapura.
I never did it, my driver had probably no clue of this ticket or I just have pure luck. He drove me around all day for a cheap price and I just went inside and outside without showing any ticket.
And you can believe me, I can confirm I do not look like a local at all.
I just did it and my driver couldn’t speak any words of English and was even surprised when I gave him at the end of the day our agreed price.
I will never understand why I got through of all these tourist attractions for free, but I am grateful for everything what was happening
in Sri Lanka.
If you want, you can visit Sigiriya, another World Site Heritage.
After Anuradhapura I went back to Kandy for one night, stayed again in the hills of Peradeniya, freezing. My next place I wanted to go was Ella!
Oh my lovely Ella, I loved this place and I could have stayed there for a long time. So Isuru’s friend suggested to drive me on the next day to Nuwara Eliya and from there I could take the bus to Ella;
This time even with other tourists on the bus!
If you have a motorbike, please do the route from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, it was GORGEOUS!
I was feeling like in a trance and the nature is indescribable stunningly beautiful. You see the mountain side of this small country while I went up and down the hills.
It is one of these moments in your life, when you can’t stop smiling, while your heart and body still don’t realise what you are doing and seeing.
Endorphin abundantly, it is the best drug in the world.
But after 3 hours on his motorbike, my butt hurt like hell.Ella was phenomenal, the moment I dismounted the bus, Ella and me connected immediately. I loved the weather in Ella, the people and the easy-going atmosphere. Yes, it is crowded for a reason.
I started to fall more in love with this country.
Eating in a small restaurant Roti and made promptly friends with other travelers. Oh, by the way food– I recommend you these:
Jackfruit Curry, Beetroot Curry, KOTHU!! (vegeterian version though and my favourite food in Sri Lanka), also cheese and egg Kothu, Hoppers, Eggplant Curry, Roti, Gotu Kola Sambol (Salad) and many more.
I didn’t want to give you any explanations about any of the listed dishes, therefore I dare you to try all the mouth-watering dishes by yourself.
In the next days I would climb Adam’s peak and got to see Ella Rock and Ravana falls, actually everyone who just loves nature a little bit will be overwhelmed from all the places I mentioned above.
One day I walked from my hostel to the Kinellan Tea Factory, but after a long walk I had to realise that it won’t be that easy to hike all the way up and the path was so muddy.
So I hired a friendly tuk-tuk driver and he drove me to the Tea Factory where I had a fantastic tour and afterwards left the place as a tea expert (of course not 😀 ).
My driver was so friendly, so I bought him some tea from this factory.
In the beginning we just agreed that he would drive me to the tea factory, but then he insisted also to bring me to the Demodara Nine Arch Bridge.
I went with him and saw maybe the most beautiful Arch in my life so far.
It looks like from a Bollywood movie when the train crosses the bridge and people are waving to me in foggy weather, while a cow is standing 50 metres (164 ft) far away and eats the grass undisturbed and you have to pinch yourself again and again just to make sure you are not captured in a dream.
Oh before I forgot, the driver let me try to drive the tuk-tuk when we were on our way to the Arch, and it was stupidly difficult.
If you like you can try one day. But me, I am sorry to decline for an another try.
I put a picture from the arch on Instagram, actually the only second photo which remained.
My heart was breaking when I had to leave Ella, but soon it got healed quickly by the beaches of Sri Lanka, whether east or west coast.
My train from Ella back to Colombo was more than wonderful,
I mean I told you from the view when we drove to Nuwara Eliya with the motorbike, right? This view might even be better.
The train is a relic from the colonial era of the British.
Guess who sat next to me?
A friend of Thushari (Isuru’s and my friend), an English very old rock musician who lived in Sri Lanka for a long time and who got one of the coolest souls I have ever met. Small world.
Bad thing is, I lost and forgot his business card with all of the other cards and my creditcard in the front storage of my airplane seat 1 month later when I left the airplane.
But he was seriously a person I’ll never forget in my life.
I came back to Colombo by train and I left the capital next morning with a friend of Isuru on a bus to Mirissa.
I stayed in one of the best stays (in my opinion) in Sri Lanka called Pearl Resort Mirissa.
It is the great starting point to explore the beaches around like Hikkaduwa (snorkeling), Unawatuna, Matara and Tangalle. I enjoyed all of them.
In Mirissa I joined a whale and dolphin tour and got a discount price.
Isuru’s friend spends too much time in Mirissa and he has friends working at the whale watching tour company, who gave me the discount. Seriously I had the chance to see two of the most beautiful water creatures on earth!
I still can’t believe that I saw one of the biggest animals that ever lived on this planet.
I was grateful that we didn’t come too close to the whales and disturbing them.
I made a lot of friends in the south of Sri Lanka and surfed almost everyday in Mirissa, sometimes even the only one surfer in the water.
But Arugam Bay is the surf mecca spot of Sri Lanka.
Even though Sri Lanka is not the biggest country in the world, you have many spots for surfing (some of them all for yourself),
snorkeling and diving.
At the end I got the chance to see Galle, another World Heritage Site.
I didn’t really expect to go there anymore, but since I made friends with the owner and his family, he drove me from Mirissa to Galle for one day and back.
On my arrival day he invited all of his guests to come to his daughter’s Ceremony Of Puberty. Thank you very much for all of your kindness, even though you might never read it.
Last but not least precautions for female solo travelers.
Yes I traveled all of the time safe and sound through Sri Lanka, but even sometimes I got silly pick-up lines and two times sexual harassments.
But you can take some precautions.
- Cook up a story. Every time they would ask me about a boyfriend or husband, I would say that I have a husband who is waiting for me in the hotel or the next city. Perhaps it’s actually not a bad thing if you would wear a fake ring on your ring finger.
- Dress decently and appropriately and you will decrease the amounts of bad passes.
- You can drink and party when you are back at home with your friends. When you are traveling you want to see and doing activities you can’t do at home, right? Believe me, it is better to be of sound mind.
And if you can’t resist any party, try to make yourself friends in the hostel or trustworthy locals and go partying with them plus it makes more fun in a group.
- Enough is enough. Make sure that you are setting boundaries. If they go to far or asking you inappropriate questions, you can say this is too personal and not from relevance for your conversational partner.
But stay polite and friendly.
- Don’t go out anxious or with anger. People will recognize it easily and you might become a target for them. Sometimes ignoring is the best way to get out of an uncomfortable situation.I could write much more about Sri Lanka and what I experienced during my time there. But I am sure, I will come back to Sri Lanka one day, since it became one of my favourite countries in the world.
A small country with 8 different World Heritage Sites, which is more than recommend by me to travel to.
Thank you Sri Lanka, you have been truly a beautiful one!