Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Highlights and Experiences in Sri Lanka

*This Post originally appeared on my now defunct lifestyle blog Style and Chocolates. This blog post has a few modifications to the text and is being transferred here permanently.

I've always been fascinated by the thought of Sri Lanka. If you’re a Disney or Rudyard Kipling fan, you would know that The Jungle Book was set in the jungles of Sri Lanka! Our tour also included a safari to one of the National parks so I was super excited for that! I’ll be posting some photos, as well as anecdotes and highlights of the places we visited.
Warning : This is a VERY long post with lots and lots of photos!
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
I think this site has to be one of my favorites! When I read the itinerary, the elephant orphanage didn’t seem that exciting to me because I felt like I've already seen so many elephants in my lifetime. I didn't really see anything unusual hen reading about the place's proile. Well I was wrong because the sight we saw was pretty incredible!
Eating Time!

The Baby Elephants. Andy and Alex on their way to feeding time.

First, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the river - that scene in itself was already gorgeous and we saw one or two elephants from afar drinking water. Then we were taken to the feeding area. We saw two baby elephants named Andy and Alex. They were too adorable! All of a sudden we hear a commotion and then we see all the elephants lining up and then they all started running towards the river. It was bath time!
The elephants hustling towards the river

We followed their trail of uh, dung and came to the river. The scene that we saw when we got to the river was amazing!
 Bath time for the elephants!

Gorgeous View.

Speaking of dung…the pathway that we passed on the way to the river was a street filled with all sorts of touristy shops. Most of the shops there sold paper made from elephant poop!  It was pretty funny actually seeing all these signs. At least they found some good use out of it! I didn’t buy any but I wonder if they smell? Would you guys buy poo paper?

They make good use out of their droppings!
Indian Ocean
Living in a tropical country with 7,107 islands, you would think I’m used to the beach and bodies of water. The thing is though, the places I live and go to in my country are surrounded by relatively calm seas so seeing the enormous Indian Ocean was kind of new and somewhat fascinating. We stayed in several hotels that were situated by it and also visited some sights and restaurants near it. The sight of the ginormous waves crashing to the shore was pretty amazing. A bit scary to watch too!

 Beachfront of our hotel in Negombo.

The shore was so wide!

If you guys remember, Sri Lanka was one of the countries badly affected by the 2004 Tsunami.  The side of the coast where we stayed and toured at were the places that were hit. You can still see evidence of the disaster like ruined houses, mass graves and memorials. But overall, you can see that they’ve made a remarkable recovery. Life for them, still goes on and it’s amazing to see such resilience to calamities like it.

 Everyday life of Sri Lankan fishermen

Nuwara Eliya
This particular area of the country is touted as the “English Countryside” of Sri Lanka. To get there, we had to drive through twisty mountains at night. Before reaching Nuwara Eliya, we made a stop at a lookout point that showed us a view of Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka. Once we arrived at Nuwara Eliya, we were surprised to find that it was really cold! Sri Lanka is a really hot and tropical country so it was such a nice surprise to have cooler weather, even for just a night.

On the way to Nuwara Eliya, we passed by a lookout point that overlooked a large city, Kandy
View of Kandy

Colonial buildings in Nuwara Eliya

Creepy looking mist/fog in Nuwara Eliya

A haunted looking house in Nuwara Eliya

Waterfalls by the side of the rode, seen on the way out from Nuwara Eliya

Some Tea plantations seen on drive to Nuwara Eliya

Yala National Park
The one thing I was most excited about was going on a safari at the Yala National Park! It is the second biggest national park in Sri Lanka. It’s a jungle where wild animals roam free but at the same time a wildlife sanctuary.
Jungle scenery

Pumba and his family crossing the dusty road behind us.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a proper safari before (do the ones in Bangkok count?) And it’s my dream one day to do one in Africa. For now, traversing through the jungles that inspired Rudyard Kipling was more than enough and hopefully a teaser to an African safari that I want to go to in the future.
A deer among the trees

The thing with safaris though is that you are never sure what animals you see or if you even see any at all. That’s part of the whole excitement! You ride a huge jeep and drive through the dusty orange pathways and keep a lookout for the jungle dwellers. The most elusive and most sought out animal is the leopard. We were not guaranteed that we would see one but driver and tour guide did their best. They had radios and communicated with other drivers and guides as they all helped each other out with news if ever there was a sighting. There were a lot of false alarms and we got our hopes up so many times, but finally, finally! Our driver gestured to us excitedly and in one of the stops we saw it. The leopard was coming out from the trees and it was facing us for literally 5 seconds before it turned and started to walk away. And guess what, the leopard actually turned to look back for a split second and I swear we made eye contact! (my sister also swears it too) We were too stunned and it happened so quickly that we did not even have time to take a photo. Oh well. Experiencing it was awesome enough already.
A bird hitching a ride with one of the water buffalos

A crocodile snapping it's jaws

Why did the peacock cross the road? Why to get to the other side of course! har,har

Kosgoda Beach

One of our stops on the last day was a trip to Kosgoda beach. It is a prime turtle nesting site. The Kosgoda Sea Turtle conservation Project monitors the turtle activity and plays a big role in preserving these endangered animals. We were given a mini tour, where we saw the egg, the hatching site and finally the little pools that had hundreds and hundreds of baby turtles ( one pool had what they called the Happy birthday Turtle because they were just a day old!) and some other pools held individual older and some injured turtles. They usually release the sea turtles to sea after they are 4 days old.
Sea turtle eggs

 The Happy Birthday turtles
This is how the turtles look when they're all grown up

Love that there are places like these and people who want to help out. It’s sad to know that sea turtles are endangered. Hope we can all help out in some way to more projects like this. Click HERE for their website to know more about the Conservation Project.
Baby turtles!

We also drove around and Galle, an old town preserved from the Dutch Era. We visited some temples that had a couple of monkeys lurking about. One important sight is the Sigiraya Rock Fortress. If you go up a thousand steps you can see that the entrance is sort of guarded by huge Lions. Unfortunately we did not get to see this as we didn’t make the trek up. The scenery around it was gorgeous though and the Rock Fortress looked colossal even from afar. I must come back one day and conquer those steps!

Sigiraya Rock Fortress

Sigiraya Rock Fortress

Dal, one of the most common dishes. These are like yellow colored lentils

The resident monkey at Dambulla temple, grabbing a bite to eat

What pepper plants look like. I've never seen these before!

Saw some porcupines at the side of the road! So cute!

One of the most fantastic and unusual hotel entrances/foyers I've ever seen!

Amazing foyer of the Jetwing lighthouse Hotel.

We also went to a Spice garden. It was one of my favorite stops on the tour and I got to buy some fresh nutmeg and vanilla extract, it smelled so good and as so potent!
Sri Lanka is a gorgeous country and more people should go and visit it! There are still so many hidden gems that I have not discovered. There are so many aspects of it that I haven’t found in other countries. For example, they have some really good cashew nuts! So juicy, chewy and milky! Driving down the roads in the countryside, you’re bound to run into a stand that sells cashew!
Sri Lanka is also rich in mineral resources like gemstones. Beryls, topazes and sapphires are naturally found here so if you are a gemstone lover, then you should go!

A lovely Sri Lankan scenery.

All in all it was a lovely vacation. I hope to be back to go up Sigiraya Rock Fortress and see the enormous lion paws. Oh and to get more cashew nuts! They were so darn good!

All photos in this post are personal photos of If you want to use them or borrow them in any way, please contact me first! My email add: If you can't be bothered to send me an email and still want to use my photos, then please do credit them and link back to this blog. Thanks!

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