Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was ticking all the boxes for a perfect get away; endless pristine beaches, an abundance of tropical landscapes, fascinating wildlife, generous food portions, and ancient Buddhist cities including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya.
Arriving in Colombo airport, withdrawing cash (locked currency) I jumped into a taxi and headed through the clean streets of the countries capital city. First stop; beach, then beer. The waiter enthusiastically introduced himself and before long we were talking about everything from how much a bag of weed costs to a history lesson about the recent war.
The country broke out of civil war in 2009, and it is clearly still fresh in people’s memories after a 25 year long battle. from 1983 the war between the Sri Lankan government and The Tamil Tigers caused significant hardships for the population, environment and the economy of the country with an initial estimated 80,000–100,000 people killed during its course.
The tear shaped isle has 5 provinces to explore, North, East, South, West, and central. Check the weather reports as the starting point when planning your trip here as you’ll need to get to grips with the two monsoon seasons. The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. Visit the Selective Asia website for more monsoon information.
The South is the place to head for the beaches (outside of Monsoon time of course). Here you will find a surf school mecca, whale spotting trips, and tasty seafood restaurants on the shore. Head central for the ancient cities on the cultural triangle, and explore tropical landscapes and ancient cities. Be warned though it can be expensive for the budget traveller as a lot of the entrance fees are extortionate.
Off the beaten track and wandering whilst penniless I found a wealth of treats. My favourites were the story of the English General who fell in love with a local girl for her skills in language and poetry, the graveyard story teller, the endless enchanting wildlife, crazy Catholic iconography in Negombo, chewing the betel, and the Buddhist temple caves in Dambulla.
Here’s the Itinerary…