Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

So long, Sri Lanka!

My brief but beautiful time in Sri Lanka is up! It was a surprising country and I am glad I made the decision to stop here. My trip over from Nepal was unexpectedly expensive and seriously unenjoyable but definitely worth it. 

As I mentioned before, Sri Lanka is far more modernized and ‘western appearing’ than Nepal was. There is more money here and more catering to tourists. I had planned to make a quick tour of the country and see as much as I could, but that did not happen. Once I met my yogi friends I was blissfully stuck in the little beach town of Hikkaduwa. HIkkaduwa is considered to be somewhat of a ‘backpackers paradise’, an inexpensive slice of luxury for the budget traveler. It is full of surfing, beach bars, cosy restaurants, and well traveled young people from all over the world. My days consisted of early morning yoga with Lyndon, locally known as ‘the rubber man’ who is a British-pseudo Sri Lankan who has been living in Hikkaduwa for over 15 years. He is an extremely knowledgeable master of yoga who I wish I could pack up in my suitcase (he would definitely fit) and carry around with me for the rest of my travels. Starting each morning with a bit of personal challenge and re-centering does amazing things for the soul! If you ever make it to Hikkaduwa go see Lyndon. Next I usually crossed the street to “the coffee shop’ (a real life game of Frogger, crossing the street when in Sri Lanka) and enjoyed a most delicious cup of cappuccino with a homemade coconut muffin. A really lovely little family runs this place… and coconut muffins, come on! I need to get the recipe. The remainder of my day generally consisted of surfing, sunbathing, avocado salads, beach jogs, and dinner with friends. Life is freaking good in Sri Lanka! Needless to say, I didn’t make it on a tour of the country once I fell in love with Hikkaduwa. There has been something very comforting to me on this trip about having routine. I lack routine in my daily life at home, an unfortunate consequence of being a floor nurse. Some weeks I’m up all night at work, the next week I’m spending my weekend in the hospital, and the week after I’m working every other day. You just never know! This schedule prevents me from establishing any type of routine and because of it I often feel lost and out of control. Having routine these past few months (in the village in Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc) has really been so good for me. I feel more connected to myself and my life and I actually know what’s going on. Somehow I really need to try to incorporate routine into my inconsistent life back home.

I did manage to leave Hikkaduwa for a few days, and explored the more southern coast of Sri Lanka. Helena (my norwegian friend) and I got a cabana in a lazy little beach town called 
Mirrissa for a few nights. There was less of a party scene here than in Hikka and it was the perfect place to chill out. The dutch girls came down for a couple nights as well and we went on a safari to Yala National Park. See I did something besides lay on the beach! The safari was meh to begin with and we saw the typical jungle wildlife… water buffaloes, crocodiles, exotic birds, giant iguanas, monkeys, etc. Then, when we were all ready to call it a day… we literally drove right into a HERD of elephants. It was amazing!! And so beautiful to see these incredible creatures up close in the wild. Even two babies! We sat in the jeep for several minutes, in silence with mouths gaping, just watching these majestic creatures move around us. Made the whole experience worth it. After Mirissa, I went back to Hikka for one more day before heading to the airport. I loved Hikka, and could have stayed longer. When I first arrived it was definitely still ‘off season’, which was really great because it gave us the opportunity to really get to know the locals and enjoy the place without all the crowds. The scene really started to change by the time I was leaving (high season is coming!), and I think I’m glad to have been there when I was. A lot of Russians in Hikka also, weird. I went to one last beach party last night then caught a van to the airport at 1:30am to make a 7am flight. Not that much fun. But the flight was easy, and here I am in Thailand!

I am staying in a hostel for 3 nights and then my long lost boyfriend arrives on Monday. It’s been more than two months since we’ve seen each other, so it will be a happy reunion that we are both very much looking forward to. This will be Conor’s first time traveling internationally so I am very excited to introduce him to my life as a backpacker! If all goes well, he’ll be hooked and next time I head out on an around the world adventure I will have a travel buddy! Conor and I have been together for over 2 and a half years and although he knows me very well, I am really looking forward to him seeing me in this environment. Because, as weird as it sounds, traveling is often a place where I feel most at home and am really happiest. I am excited for him to experience that and get a better understanding of why I feel like its necessary (because it is!) to pack up and head across the ocean like I did. It took a long time for me to convince myself that I’m not the most selfish person in the world for leaving my life behind for a few months, but I really needed to do it to reconnect with myself. I can’t be me and feel good about it without having an experience like this. Thank you Conor, for understanding me and still loving me. I am the luckiest girl.

Well, I am happy to be in Bangkok! I was here 7 years ago and swore one day I’d be back. It’s always been one of my very places. But I really can’t believe I’m actually back! Last time I was here I was volunteering in Bangkok for 6 weeks and was just a little 19 year old! AW! This experience will be different and I’m excited to see more of the country. Hope you all had a happy halloween and have good things coming to you this November! 

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A Mirissa sunset!

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Yoga with the rubber man!

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A Hikka dance party!

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Jungle Safari at Yala!

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Elephant friend!

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Trying to look the part of a surfer chick…

Beach bumming in Sri Lanka

Where do I begin to describe Sri Lanka! After an airline experience that went from bad to worse to damn near deadly (emotionally), I was exhausted and ‘over it’ when I arrived in Colombo before the sun last Saturday morning. I spent my first night in Negembo, only thanks to it’s proximity to the airport and my lack of motivation to travel further. Negembo is a busy, bustling fishing town with a strong Christian influence thanks to Portuguese rule several decades (centuries?) ago. It was a good first stop, but I didn’t need more than 24 hours. A quick tour of the smelly but very fascinating fish market and a wander around town and I was ready to move on. My next stop was Colombo, just an hour or so by bus. On arriving in Colombo I then paid 4x my bus fare to take a taxi to my hotel. Hmmm. Colombo is a bigger, more developed city that I had imagined. There is a solid infrastructure and many modern luxuries. Much different than Nepal.  The roads were paved, businesses were bigger, people had more money, etc. Honestly, though I probably could have done without a stop in Colombo. It was especially difficult as a single white female.  I was endlessly the target of schemers and salesmen and tuktuk drivers. As well as endured frequent unsolicited and quite obnoxious comments from both young and old Sri Lankan men who were missing their manners. Anyway, on day 3 I caught a train to the coastal town of Hikkaduwa.

My 130 rupees ($1) ticket did not buy me a seat on the train, just the opportunity to fight for a place to breathe. I had heard the train could take anywhere from 2-6 hours and given my cramped 6 inches of standing space between an overweight German man and a Sri Lankan family of 5, I was desperately hoping for the former. Fortunately we pulled into my stop just a short hour and forty five minutes later, which was a really good thing because I was afraid my knees would be permenantly locked if I didn’t stretch them soon. I arrived at my adorable little seaside hotel, where my cheapo room was in the midst of a pre-season renovation. Well lucky for me, they had plenty of ‘King rooms’ with balconies available. Score! I did some exploring and called it an early night. The next morning I got up for Yoga, with Lindon, Hikkaduwa’s famed ‘rubber man’. He is a happy, eccentric, yogic expat that has been living in Sri Lanka for 15 years. He taught a really grueling but energizing ashtanga style class. It was exactly the kind of grounding experience I was looking for after having a rocky start to my Sri Lankan adventure.

After class, I met Casey (Australian native who has spent the last decade of his life running back and forth across the world between the sand and the snow) and Helena (Norwegian in the midst of a quarter life crisis who has just sold out her share of a restaurant to globe trot for the next year). They are both on their own in Sri Lanka and I instantly loved them. We went for a coffee and then connected with some dutch girls to go for a surf. Even though I was very honest about lack of experience, I was still invited along with this much more seasoned crew. People are so nice! We caught a tuktuk to Galle, where the waves were rumored to be a little more mellow and more manageable than in Hikkwaduwa. I liked the sound of this. We spent about 2 hours on our boards (or under, across, over, and everywhere else in my case). It was more work and more fun than I ever imagined! What have I been missing my whole life! On the way home we stopped at a Dutch fort and took the scenic route to explore some less touristy areas of the coast. It was a perfect day. I was so exhausted I could barely think, but so blissfully happy.

Yesterday was more yoga. The waves were rough though so much to my disappointment Helena and I spent the day just hanging on the beach. It was so hard to sit and watch the waves when you just want to be in them! Finally around 4:30, I had had enough of sitting around and waiting so I confidently approached some beach boys for a board rental. At first I think I had them convinced I could handle it, but after being unable to tell them my board size (what?) I had blown it. They took one look at the water and back at me and suggested I sit back down for the evening. Oh well it was worth a try! This morning, yoga again! Such a good start to the day. After breakfast, the dutch girls were going to explore some Sri Lankan culture and Helena was joining them.  It sounded nice I thought, but what I really want is the waves! I asked Casey to check out the beach for me and see if he felt like I could live through the morning. In the end, he and I decided to go back to Galle. It might have had something to do with him not wanting to feel responsible for me in the monsoon that is Hikkaduwa. Either way, I’m happy. When we get to Galle my body hurts before I even get on the board. Uh oh. This day is not as much fun as my first and again I spent more time underwater than over it. But I do manage to catch a few waves that are bigger than last time, so all in all it’s a success. And I still have all my teeth and haven’t given myself a black eye.

This is exactly the kind of zen I needed after seven crazy weeks in Nepal. Life is good.

Fish for sale in Negembo!
Fish for sale in Negembo!
A woman chops fish at the market
A woman chops fish at the market
My Sri Lankan train experience, captured perfectly by this woman's face
My Sri Lankan train experience, captured perfectly by this woman’s face
Beach bum bliss :)
Beach bum bliss 🙂