Sri Lanka - things to do- part #1
Sri Lanka - Island of endless beaches, beautiful sunsets, kind people, funny prices, elephants, turtles, tea plantations, cinnamon and trains to remember.
First things first.
Arriving to Sri Lanka felt as if being somewhere between India and Thailand - probably because Tuk Tuk rides are all over the place. My first stop was in Galle, which is in the south-western part of the island, where the most beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets are to be found. City vibe is pretty chaotic, locals are approaching you at all occasions, trying to sell everything, starting with cellular data to cultural attractions. People are very kind and willing to talk to you, even though their English is pretty bad and it is hard to communicate with them. Be prepared for apparent gazing and questions if you are willing to take a picture with them. Traffic is simply crazy, to me it seemed like there are no rules at all, seeing buses overtaking cars and taking the whole road to themselves is completely normal.
Sri Lanka - what to do - part #1
Rope swinging and Sunset in Dalawella beach
This beach took my heart! Sand, water, sunset, swing rope and big rock. It looks like magic. Perfect spot to chill on the beach and wait for the sunset. Sunsets in Sri Lanka are really stunning. I thought Bali had the most beautiful sunsets, but after seeing this I am not that sure anymore.
2. Sri Lanka - Yala safari
For sure Yala safari is one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka! It took us quite a while (approx. 3 hours) to get to Yala safari park and see all those beautiful animals in their natural habitat. I have chosen Mahaweli tours&holidays company and in all honesty this daily trip went by very smoothly and in perfect organization.
When arriving to Yala, we were given a safari driver and he had made my day. He was singing all the way and was generally very positive about finding the Leopard, which is their primary goal when they take you around. Even though we haven’t seen it for real - experience was amazing. Seeing elephants just few meters away, wilds pigs, spotted deer (like a real Bambi), monkeys, buffalo chilling in the mud… it was priceless. Be ready for the rocky road and bring a lot of water with you. Food can be useful as well since it takes approx. 4 hours to go around, that is if you don’t mind tricky roads combined with food. After the sun goes down, the view is even better.
“Turtle populations are attacked at all stages of their lives, both from natural and human pressures and all species of sea turtle are now classed as endangered. Without intervention, we may lose these beautiful, ancient creatures from our ocean’s forever. The natural life cycle of marine turtles is tough enough without the added pressure from humans, and it is no wonder their numbers are drastically declining. “
Very informative place about turtles. At this point I was realizing the worst “animals” of all are us - humans. Ruining everything beautiful in the World. This hatchery takes care of all the injured turtles in the area, whether they are injured by other animals or humans. They take care of lay eggs and release newborn turtles on the beach to make sure there is higher possibility for turtles to arrive safely in the sea. In general only 1% of newborns survive and get to the sea safely. The worst part is that hatchery needs to buy eggs from locals to keep them alive, otherwise those eggs are sold to people as meal, even though it is forbidden!
In the hatchery you can find a lot of different turtles born with a “mistake” and they keep them in the hatchery to maintain their lives. I fell in love with albino turtle Jackson. Because of it’s colour (no camouflage) it would be dangerous to put it in the sea, as sharks would have a fast meal. This experience opened my eyes even more and I am thankful to VTSlanka Tours for taking me to this spot.
4. Visiting local food market
Local food market Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is known for it’s spices/herbals, tea, cinnamon and food markets. All of that can be easily found on the streets. If you are lost and don’t know where to find any of the mentioned places, the easiest way to get all the information is using Tuk Tuk ride and ask the driver to take you to the spot you need. In between they will try to sell you all the possible things and stop couple of times to show you around, not to forget that each stop will of course cost you some extra money. However, that is just the way things work in Sri Lanka. Sure you need to bargain for the price.
5. Boat safari, fishing and eating with locals
Experience Sri Lanka like a local with VTSlanka Tours
A Bentota river safari is promising all sorts of creepy things: crocodiles, snakes, bats and lizards. We have seen it all.
You need to pay attention while riding a boat to notice all the creatures - luckily our safari guide was very helpful pointing us where to look at. It was a very relaxing experience with VTSlanka Tours.
After finishing our ride through mangrove forest - which by the way looks great - we decided to go fishing. Bentota river is third biggest river in Sri Lanka. It joins with the sea, very close by the place where safari has it’s starting point. That is the reason there are many fish to be caught. We heard that not all the fishermen are equally lucky - it is very important to find one that is. I would not call that luck, I think it is all about the knowledge.
Well oh well, we were “lucky” and caught 3 red snappers in 3 hours. After that we went to the nearby restaurant where we had dinner. This was the best part for me because hanging out with locals and meeting their culture is something completely different all the other experience I had.
6. moon stone miner
Moon Stone Mine - Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a lot about energies and spirits. No wonder moon stone is very popular to wear in Sri Lanka.
“The meaning of moonstone is in its energy—a nourishing, sensual, deeply feminine energy that knows how to heal and bring you back to wholeness. It is the stone of the mother moon, deep healing waters, and sacred feminine energies. With its high energy rays of purple, gold, and blue colors, the mysterious moonstone is always enveloped in a shimmering white energy; this makes it a protective stone.”
It is hard for me to describe all the feelings I have after visiting miner of a moon stone. VTSlanka tours suggested to make a short trip to Ilukmulla where you can find a lot of moon stone mines. After our arrival we went through the whole process - from digging, cleaning in the water and shaping to the very end when they end up in a ring or a necklace. It was very informative, I can assure you that - but what left the biggest impact were people working in mines. Going under ground every day with a candle, not only for the light but to know if there is enough of oxygen for them to breath or not. I asked the man who brought us there how many hours per day they work. He assured me that every second day, they have a day off, working 7 hours per day “only” - hopefully. After the informative part you are taken to the store, where you can buy all different sorts of stones. It is up to you whether you will buy it or not.
7. visiting a monk
Believes of Sri Lanka people are quite different than European ones. In Sri Lanka the majority of people are buddhist, which affects the whole country and their way of living. People have strong believes in spirits, amulets, stones, astrology… I have found pretty interesting that before they get married the most important part is to have a look at astrology (more known as horoscope), if the couple matches or not. Decades ago when there were still arranged marriages horoscope was the first thing to have a look at. “Now it is different” the locals are saying but they still love to visit monks to “read” to them and tell the future. I have visited one myself. Unfortunatly the Monk didn’t have time to make my horoscope which is completely different than ours but he did a palm reading to me - and must say - he does have some skills.
My next move is to visit northern part of Sri Lanka, which is pretty different than this one.
To be continued…