Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sri Lanka in a nutshell

Better late than never!!!

Our driver, Indika, and his family

Sara's Top Three

Mandira Dickoya
Adam's Peak

David's Top Three
Mandira Dickoya
Adam's Peak

Impressions:  We loved Sri Lanka!  It might be Sara's new favorite country.  The people were wonderful, the food was delicious, the weather was great, there was so much to do, and there weren't too many tourists.  It really is worth a visit.

:  The food was delicious.  We ate Sri Lankan food for almost every meal every day.  Several of the places we stayed had chefs who would fix us their favorite specialties.  Our favorites were hoppas (regular, string, and egg hoppas), vegetable curries, red rice, coconut salads, egg custard, milk rice, and of course tea!

:  The majority of the people in the country are Sinhalese Buddhists.  The Tamils, a large ethnic minority from India, are Hindus.  There also are significant Muslim and Christian minorities.  We visited some quaint Christian churches from when Sri Lanka was a British colony.

Weather:  The weather in Sri Lanka varies quite a bit from one part of the island to the next.  The coastal areas and low lying areas such as Anuradhapura and Habarana are very warm, similar to SE Asia.  Kandy is cooler (think no AC needed at night)  because it is closer to the hills and Dickoya was even cooler being located in the Hill Country.

: $1 USD = 130 Sri Lankan Rupees.  Prices were low in Sri Lankan and our dollars went pretty far.

:  A few people recommended to us that hiring a car and driver was the easiest and most comfortable way to get around Sri Lanka.  We'd have to agree!  We had two different drivers.  Both were great with excellent English and they often served as guides showing us around sites.  They were also able to tell us a lot bout Sri Lanka, which was great.  We even had the chance to spend an afternoon with our second  driver, Indika, and his family at their home drinking tea  and playing with his son and niece.  A great afternoon!  We did meet several people who got around just fine on local trains and buses, so that is definitely another (and cheaper) option, but with everything we wanted to see and do we needed a car and driver.

: Lightweight, conservative clothing in the low lying areas.  Pants and a light sweater in the hill country.  A warm jacket, hat, and gloves at Adam's Peak.

Accommodation:  The accommodation is fairly inexpensive in Sri Lanka so with our budget we were still able to stay in some great places.  Staying in the jungle at Galadawala was a highlight for Sara and staying on a tea plantation at Mandira Dickoya was a highlight for David.

:  Sri Lanka is only a few years out of a civil war that lasted for thirty years and caused a lot of damage to the country and the tourism industry.  The war was fought between the Hindu Tamils (ethnic Indians) and the Sri Lankan government.

Internet:  The Internet wasn't easy to find in Sri Lanka.  A few places where we stayed had wi-fi in the lobby, but for the most part we weren't online during our week in Sri Lanka. 

Planning a trip:  We used a local travel agency recommended by a friend to help us plan our trip.  The travel agency was Red Dot Tours and we highly recommend them.  They were easy to work with, very responsive, and they helped us put together a great itinerary that allowed us to do everything we wanted in just one week.

Someday when we are back:  We met some travelers in Sri Lamka and they all offered tips of more great places to go in the country.  A few we might like to try are: Yala National Park, Jaffna and Delft (wild horses) in northern Sri Lanka, and Marissa for the beach.

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