It’s a rare country that can come even close to taking Brazil’s well-established place in my heart, but Sri Lanka may just have a chance. There’s no comparison in terms of size but for a small country Sri Lanka is surprisingly diverse and pretty laidback. Ancient ruins, rock temples and stunning hill country, seeing newborn turtles scuttle their way across the beach at sunset, giant kitsch Buddhas…just some of the things I saw this trip.
Proper updates to come (I’m frustratingly short of time right now) but in the meantime, a couple of pics and some Sri Lanka tips.
Sri Lanka tips
Food: Maybe this will tempt you…rice and curry, Sri Lankan style. Really good.
Women travellers: the Lonely Planet guide to Sri Lanka (2009 edition) strongly recommends against travelling on trains alone. Sit next to another women if you can. Having said this, a couple of solo female travellers got off the sleeper train in Ella at the same time as us, so the usual common sense rules apply.
Train travel: We had to go to Colombo to buy tickets for the sleeper train to Ella as we couldn’t buy them in the local station. Worth planning a rough itinerary so you only have to go to the Colombo ticket office once. Don’t worry too much if plans change – we couldn’t make it to Anuradhapura in the end but we only lost about £5 between us!
Road safety: overtaking on a blind bend? Weaving in and out of traffic? Just another day on Sri Lanka’s roads. A lot of minivans seem to be without seatbelts. On the other hand compared to our kamikaze taxi driver in Mumbai it seems milder now!
Hassle factor: Low – this is a classic ‘don’t believe everything you read on Tripadvisor’ example . In some of the resort towns on the west coast there’s the usual crowd of tuk-tuk drivers but mostly people will leave you alone if you politely say no. Buy a lotus flower to leave at temples and remember to cover your legs and upper arms. Don’t take pictures with your back to statues of Buddha!