Having just returned from an amazing five day break in Marissa I wanted to share my travel diaries and photos from the beautiful country that is Sri Lanka. A destination that has been on my travel-wish-list for sometime, I am happy I am now able to put a big strike through it and start daydreaming about my next globe trotting adventure.
I had the most enchanting time in the jungle that is Sri Lanka, and here is why I fell in love with the little southern Indian island of paradise.
Having never been to Sri Lanka before, and honestly doing very little research about the country, we decided to stay at the most southernly point of the island at a place named Garton's Cape having been recommended the property by a friend. The hotel was what seemed to be, unintentionally, a boutique hotel which had no more than thirty rooms, two restaurants and a small spa. The swimming pool began in the hotel lobby and went through the residence until it met with the sea. Tranquil would be the best way to describe it and the peaceful, slow pace environment is definitely ready for anyone who is looking to chill out.
We did have a small incident in the hotel - we ordered two bottle of wine from room service to take out as we was going to a friends villa for a BBQ - the member of staff insisted that we paid for the bill then and there, where previously we had added everything to our room tab. It became apparent that the member of staff had been a bit naughty and pocketed the cash which the General Manager discover and addressed. It wasn't any concern of ours but it was a reminder that we were surrounded by extreme poverty and with that comes crime, naturally. This incident was small and needless but you do need to keep your wits about you when traveling through local areas.
DAY 1: THE TEA FARM
Sri Lanka is renowned for their Tea Farms, so this is something you kind of have to tick off the list. I would recommend doing this in your own group and not joining a tourist trail which are completely impersonal – you’ll get a much better (and cheaper) experience doing it on your own. Speak to some locals, expat residents or your hotel reception to find out where your nearest tea plantation is then you can arrange a tuk-tuk to take you there. It was just the two of us on our trip and not only did we spend the afternoon tea- tasting (the perfect activity on a hang over) but we actually helped work some of the machinery. It was great fun and we ended up spending about 800AED on tea afterwards in the gift shop! We bought a lot of white tea which was their signature flavour –each portion comes individually wrapped in organic material to keep it safe and untouched from the human hand. I thought it would be lovely to have in the office on hand for those days when you need to distress and have a little bit of tranquility; all of a sudden my builders-cup of Tetley seems a little shabby (wink).
DAY 2: GETTING DOWN WITH THE LOCALS
From our trip we really wanted an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experience, something quite raw and non-commercial and part of our Sri Lankan Bucket List was to visit a local family and learn about their way of life. Staying in Garton’s Cape was the perfect place to do this as we were in the midst of a local community completely untouched by tourism. We were fortunate enough to be invited round to someone’s house for a cup of homemade tea – and when I say homemade it was literally produced from the good of the land. The mother of the family proudly took us around her garden and educated us on all the vegetation she uses for cooking and wellbeing, from curry leaves to ginger plants, aloe vera leaves and cinnamon trees. The tea was served in her best china accompanied by a chocolate bourbon, which just seemed completed surreal being presented with this very English cup and saucer when they didn’t even have running water in this house. And although I’m ashamed to admit that I was nervous about drinking from the cup for hygiene reasons, the tea had the most beautiful and rich flavour which tasted like it should be served in MORE café. We sat in their living area and tried to communicate in broken English and it was a really humbling experience. Learning about their way of life was very enchanting and not so much of an eye opener but a big dose of someone else’s reality. They were extremely house proud and made us feel so welcome, we wanted to compliment them on their home but it’s difficult to say with out seeming patronising.
DAY 3: PURE RELAXATION
After two long days of activities, travel and a couple of nights at the Jungle Bar it was time for a beach-potatoe day at Marissa beach. I became quite a custom to a new drink discovery (for me) called a Russian Mulla which was a vodka based drink (surprise, surprise) topped with lime and ginger ale. Sipping on a cocktail, sitting in the sand with the warm sun on your back, taking in the view and being able to breathe in the fresh air and swim in a cool sea, was the best way to waste the day away.
DAY 4: CONCURRING A FEAR
For some crazy reason we decided to spend our last day at a snake farm. Why you ask? I have no idea. And although I may look calm and fascinated in my pictures I actually freaked out, A LOT, this was just a rare moment captured on camera when I wasn’t screaming or having a panic attack about this poisonous reptile constricting my arm.
We then ventured into town to grab some local Sri Lankan food, they love it spicy, which is right up my street and the dish of choice seemed to be Devilled Fish wherever we went. The dishes were simple and booming with flavour – with fresh, local produce, they only need to use a couple of ingredients to create strong flavorsome dishes. We invited our tuk-tuk driver to dine with us wherever we went, which apparently is not the done thing (tut tut). Regardless, we filled our bellies, burnt our tonsils on the chilli and started the journey back to the airport, praying our digestive system would survive the flight home!
Hotel: Garton's Cape
Flight time: 4hrs from Dubai
Distance to airport: 3hrs
Currency convertion: 100dhs was 3,000rupees
Spend: AED1,500 over five days
Useful site: Go Sri Lanka