‘A flavoursome teardrop of India’
Good to know:
1 GBP (British pound) = approximately 202 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupee)
For the girls – if you’re a girl solo traveller then I recommend you wear a ring on your wedding finger to fend off the sometimes forward Sri Lankan men. I was approached and followed when I walked alone a few times so I told them I was going to meet my boyfriend.
It was a last minute decision to travel to Sri Lanka. I was researching where to go next while sitting on my hostel bed in Langkawi when I got talking to a girl about Sri Lanka. I’d heard good things from other travellers too so I spontaneously booked a flight for the next day.
I flew into Colombo and took a bus straight from the airport to the Colombo bus station taking around half an hour.
Hectic. That’s what my first impression of Colombo was – hectic. I stepped off the bus and straight into a tuk tuk’s way who refused to acknowledge my presence! They come out of no where, appearing from behind cars and buses sounding their high pitched horns with every turn. The tuk tuks’ are like snakes, slithering their way through traffic hunting for naive tourists to lure into their care.
I advise that you only spend the one night here as it can be just like any other city: busy and dirty. I stayed at the ‘Colombo City Hostel’ which I booked through HostelWorld costing £3.65 per night for a 6 bed female dorm. They do not have aircon but a small fan above your bed with a huge locker to store your luggage. If you walk up to the roof you can see a great view of the city and the nearby beach.
Take a train to Kandy for a cheap 190 Rupees (94p) and enjoy the scenic route taking approximately 3 hours. I stayed at a hostel within a 10 minute walk from the station called, ‘Bunk Planet’, a comfortable capsule hostel with a lot of privacy. If you are travelling alone I recommend that you stay at a hostel in the city centre as mine was a 20 minute walk away.
Take a walk around Kandy lake where you’ll find a stunning view of the houses built on the mountains and the famous Buddha Tooth Temple. I didn’t go inside the temple as it came with a price of 1,500 Rupee.
Eat at a local restaurant for some authentic Sri Lankan dishes. My favourite was the rotti as I can’t handle spice (yes I know, great idea going to a country oozing with spice). Rotti is a traditional bread-like meal, sort of like a naan bread but lighter and more stretchy so you can tear pieces off and dip them into curry sauces. You usually get two or three sauces to eat with it.
Juice me up! You must try the fresh fruit from the markets, the mangos and bananas are to die for. I was wandering through Kandy market when a man offered me some of his mango for free and it was possibly one of the juiciest pieces of mango I’ve ever tasted.
Take a tuk tuk to a waterfall within the mountains. If you tell the driver you want to do a waterfall hike then they will know which to take you to depending on the weather. Me and a girl I met hired a tuk tuk and was driven up the mountains where we got to witness the beauty of Sri Lanka’s countryside.
The weather was overcast but that did not take away the shine of blossoming tea plantations around every corner.
“How much you pay?”. Kandy market is a great playground for your bartering skills. Always half whatever price they make first and go from there because they will try to rip you off massively. So stay savvy. I tried on a gorgeous orange sari which is a part of their traditional women’s clothing in Sri Lanka. I immediately wanted to go to a Sri Lankan wedding so I had an excuse to buy one!
Don’t fall! Now for the famous train ride from Kandy to Ella…
Which class to go for? I advise to buy a second class ticket but bare in mind that you might not get seated straight away. Third class is full of locals making their way on their probably daily/weekly train ride to work/home. First class is an observation carriage and much more expensive than second.
Your best chances of getting seated straight away is if you stand in the middle of the platform, do not stand at the beginning, keep walking down towards the end. Once the train pulls up everyone will rush onto the train like ants disappearing back into their holes underground so be careful with your belongings.
The 7 hour train ride from Kandy to Ella is considered one of the most scenic train rides in the entire world and it did not disappoint. Feel the wind race beneath your feet as you hang off the side of the train. Be careful to watch where you’re going though, tourists have been seriously injured because they didn’t see a lamppost ahead.
Wave to field workers, admire the 50 shades of green and rolling hills as you pass by…
Ella reminds me of a small town in Thailand called Pai. It breathes out fresh air and sits high in the mountains housing a small population of people. Ella has one main road with mainly local restaurants. I recommend eating local food a lot as it is really cheap and very tasty!
Take a hike up to Ella’s Rock for a nice walk and a fantastic view. You can easily do this hike by yourself even though you will get locals trying to make you go the wrong way and then hire them to lead you there for a hefty price. So trust yourself and just say no!
The hike starts from Ella station where you can walk along the train tracks to the left until you reach the next train station, then there will be a grassy pathway to enter and you basically follow the tracks all the way. However, it does help if you have google maps handy just to make sure you’re still going in the correct direction. It took us around 2 hours from start to finish.
As you can see, we were robbed of a great view by the spooky fog so if I were to do it again I would start my hike earlier from 6:30-7am.
More tea darling? If you want to see a tea plantation while you’re here then I strongly recommend that you pay ‘Amba Tea Estate’ a visit. What’s so special about them? Tucked away in the mountains only a 40 minute tuk tuk ride from Ella, Amba Tea Estate is a fresh, organic company who treat their workers, community and environment with respect.
Picking by hand, they select only the best tea leaves for their tea. I hate drinking it (poor English person) but I was happy to accompany a friend and I’m glad I did. The grounds were beautiful, I loved learning about the different types of tea and how they are unique to other tea farms in Sri Lanka. The tour was absolutely free of charge and you can tell that the workers are so passionate about tea from the way they explained the process and history of tea in Sri Lanka.
There is also a guest house for people who want to stay and relax for a few days.
“Hey mister, can I please take a spin in your car?”
My favourite memory from Sri Lanka will be the day I went on safari where I saw beautiful elephants, lazy water buffalos, multicoloured peacocks, cheeky monkeys, creeping crocodiles, prowling jungle cats and many species of bird.
Pay Galle Fort a visit for a Dutch infused town full of spas, healthy restaurants and jewellery stores. Listen up girls! Galle Fort Spa saved my life, I had been looking for a place to sugar (wax) my legs and was having no luck until I found this heavenly place! I paid 1000 rupee for my full legs which is equivalent to just under £5!
Beach hair and salty skin please…
If you’re looking for a beach to chill out on then I can recommend Mirissa Beach. The waves are high and the sand is soft, lounge around on free sunbeds while sipping on fresh fruit juices.
Unawatuna Beach is also a great place to chill out. Lay under a funky cabana while sipping fresh coconut water.
What a way to end my Sri Lankan trip!
Thank you for reading, I hope you have found my post somewhat useful.
Love Thy Traveller