Sri Lanka has been on our travel list for quite a while now and once we had plans confirmed for The Maldives, we knew we would have to make the most of the time in that part of the world and finally take a trip to Sri Lanka.
Thing is though, none of us (me, Lloyd, Georgia or Chris) knew much about what exactly to get up to in Sri Lanka and how to get around. A week in Sri Lanka is definitely not one where you’d want to stay in the same place all the time – there’s too much to see & do up and down the country for you to be based in one spot.
We decided to pass all of this worry onto someone else 🙂 and have the itinerary sorted out properly. Cue – Evaneos!
Now Evaneos is a rather cool concept we found out about a couple of weeks before Christmas. They are to travel work like Airbnb is to accommodation. They connect you to locals wherever you want to go who organise your travel for you and provide you with local expertise, local insight and best of all – local prices!
Needless to say, the four of us were only too happy to hand over the planning to experts (who wouldn’t, right?) and so by the time we left the Maldives for Sri Lanka, we a detailed itinerary we’d customised, a driver to take us around for the week and an excitement that knew no bounds! 🙂
We were greeted at the airport as soon as we arrived by our driver – Britto, who came with garlands for each of us (…also just realised it looks like Lloyd and I have matching shorts on *face palm*)
We arrived into Colombo an hour after sunset and headed straight for our hotel.
By this point, it was most definitely ‘starvation central’ for all of us so we hurried checked in and headed straight for the restaurant in the hotel!
Our plan with Evaneos covered breakfasts and dinners for every night (yasss!) and although I can’t pretend to know what local Sri Lankan food should taste like, I most definitely know what delicious food does taste like and the food at this restaurant was absolutely fantastic! One of the best we’d had in Sri Lanka and a much-appreciated welcome to the city. 🙂
Post dinner, we decided to take things easy and head up to the rooftop pool for a quick lap (and by ‘lap’ I mean bobbing around in the pool)…
… followed by drinks at the rooftop bar, before heading back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
The following morning, we got up bright and early to a foggy Colombo. The plan for today was to do the longest drive of our trip here and head for the ancient city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Sri Lanka’s first capital city!
Thankfully the fog didn’t last too long! It slowly started to lift after breakfast and by the time we stopped partway through the journey in Hambantota for tea, the sun was out in full force!
The rest house in Hambantota was definitely one of those places we would have missed out on if we planned our travels on our own. It’s very rustic, slight off-the-beaten track and serves up a cracking pot of tea (then again, Sri Lankan do know a thing or two about tea).
These rest houses are an old part of ‘pre-tourist Sri Lanka’ where locals stopped on their long journeys to rest, refuel or both, before carrying on their merry way.
Re-invigorated by the tea cakes and bananas, we hit the road again. But only for a few minutes as we all decided to try to see more of Hambantota.
The drive to Anuradhapura lasted about 6 hours in total (including stops) and so we arrived in the middle of the day with the sun properly scorching by this point.
We had a local guide pick us up and take us to the ancient city. Now there are a few things to remember when you visit this city
1.) Never take a photo with your back against the Buddha statues. You can take photos by only with your side (ideally your right arm facing the Buddha statue).
2.) You can’t walk with shoes here and the ground is scorching hot in the afternoons so do bear that in mind. That being said, you can wear socks so take a couple if you don’t wanna walk bare-feet.
3.) You have to walk around the monuments in a clock-wise fashion. The reason being that it is believed that the Buddha will bless you using your right side so you should keep your right side to the Buddha at all time hence the clock-wise walk.
4.) You have to cover up your legs. This applies to both guys and girls. Jeans are fine or sarongs (again for guys and girls) but no shorts or short skirts.
We started our tour with a history of Anuradhapura…
… occasionally getting distracted by the playful monkeys strolling around.
Some of which kept a rather watchful eye on the proceedings…
…while other just couldn’t give a monkey’s. (Sorry, couldn’t resist! Hehe!)
We marvelled at the temple’s intricate details and intriguing history. (Anuradhapura is the birth place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka).
One of the most important things to see here however is Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
Sri Maha Bodhi tree is a sacred fig tree which was originally a branch of the Bodhi tree in Budda Gaya, India under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and the branch was brought to Sri Lanka by Emperor Asoka’s daughter, Princess Sangamiita and planted in 249BC.
The tree is the oldest recorded planted tree in the world and a hugely respected part of Buddhist history not just in Sri Lanka but all over the world.
(The tree is the one held up by the gold beams and is constantly monitored by renowned botanist the world over due to its historical significance).
We left the temple soon after and headed for our next sight in Anuradhapura already well and truly fascinated, not just with the ancient city, but with Sri Lanka’s long and rich history. Little did I know at this point that this would be just the tip of the iceberg in Sri Lanka… 🙂