So I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been super anxious lately, as I spoke about on my 3rd BBC radio feature. Many of you will know that when you’re suffering with anxiety, you lack confidence to do the things you used to love; as you believe nobody will be interested anyway. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling, so please share some love if you enjoy reading my blogs and listening to me on the radio!
I absolutely fell in love with Sri Lanka. The food was amazing, the people were the kindest I’ve ever met and the backpacker vibe was so fun and sociable.
We started our 3 week stint in Negombo, as it was only 20 minutes from the airport and we’d had a LONG day travelling from the Philippines. We’d had to take 3 flights and including stopovers, it took 15 hours. We could have flown back to the UK directly in that time! It’s funny how things in Asia seem so close, yet flight connections can be quite sparse and so whilst you’d expect all the capital cities to be connected by air, they aren’t. It’s a stark contrast from Europe – and I guess it’s just another thing we take for granted back home as we have the money to fly and take holidays, whereas many people in Asia don’t.
After 2 nights in Negombo recovering from our journey, we headed down the west cost to Hikkaduwa. We stayed in a really nice guest house and ended up spending almost a week there as we decided to complete our Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving Certificate!
The advanced course gives you more experience in scuba diving and allows you to dive to a depth of 30m, from 18m in the open water course. We dove a ship wreck, learned more about different fish in the ocean, got more tips on maintaining buoyancy underwater and watched colours disappear as we got deeper into the ocean.
We loved Hikkaduwa as there were so many nice restaurants, we made lots of new friends and even learned to surf!
The waves were brutal and I got the biggest, baddest bruise of my life from surfing, so I decided to give up for a while in the end. The bruise stayed for over a week and it genuinely hurt to walk or bend my leg!
After Hikkaduwa, we went to the old colonial Dutch town of Galle, which was pretty with a European vibe. It was extremely expensive compared to other parts of Sri Lanka – almost triple the price for a meal, so we were glad to only be staying one night.
We headed to Mirissa the following morning for a (terrible) whale watching tour, which was disastrous as half the boat were stuck by sea sickness and the rest of us were dying of boredom (and feeling sick at the sound and smell of others being sick) whilst the boat ragged it through the seas, seeing nothing. I’m no expert but I’m sure it’d be better to drive slowly and look for whales rather than pelting through the ocean at full speed where it’d be impossible to even see anything anyway?
I’m lying that we didn’t see anything – we did see a whale shark, but as we’d already been snorkelling with whale sharks a few weeks ago in the Philippines we weren’t as impressed as we should have been. We were hoping to see whales!
After Mirissa, we went to Udawalawe National Park, a safari park for wild animals in Sri Lanka. There are two main parks – Udawalawe and Yala, and we were torn between the two. In the end we decided on Udawalawe as there are more elephants (one of my favourite animals) and it is less crowded. We were so lucky to have an amazingly knowledgable tour guide (also the owner of our hostel) who could tell us about all the different animals, and we saw so many amazing creatures.
Elephants came up to our jeep to greet us, which was a truly majestic experience. We also saw water buffalo, eagles, painted storks, egrets, macaque monkeys, mongoose, wild dogs & jackals. We also saw some beautiful butterflies and many other birds that I’ve forgotten the names of!
We then went North to Ella, a hill station in Sri Lanka that’s popular for trekking. Unfortunately it was absolutely FREEZING in Ella (sorry UK, when I say freezing I mean 15 degrees) and I had to wear two layers and sit with a blanket for the first time since February! It was really foggy too which meant the treks we did (Little Adam’s Peak and Lipton’s Seat) were disappointing as there was no view from the top. The town itself was nice with several fun bars and restaurants, but as it was so cold we decided to move on sooner than anticipated and head to Kandy.
Kandy was a holy place, home of the temple of the tooth which holds Buddha’s tooth. The temple was chaos and very expensive to enter, but it was a magical kind of place where people came to pray and receive blessings. There really wasn’t much more to the city besides this, and after Kandy we moved on to Dambulla.
The Dambulla Cave Temples were beautiful, and the scenery in this area was stunning. The hike up Sigiriya rock was amazing, and although many people opt to climb the smaller, cheaper Pidurangala rock, we were glad we did Sigiriya as it has so much more history to it. We stayed in a fantastic hotel in Dambulla – Dambulla City Hostel, which is the most fun, sociable hostel we’ve stayed at in Asia to date. They organised a big BBQ on our second night so we were able to meet lots of wonderful people, and as there wasn’t much to do in Dambulla at night it was a great way to spend the evening.
I was also blessed to go to the nearby Rose Quartz Mountains – mountains made from real Rose Quartz. Many of you will know that through my mental illnesses I have found solace and healing powers in crystals, and I’ve found a particular connection with Rose Quartz. Rose Quartz is said to connect with the heart and protect/heal issues with love, grief and any other heart-related emotions. I enjoyed visiting the home of Rose Quartz and spent some time meditating and recharging myself there.
After Dambulla, it was time to go back to Negombo to prepare for our flight into Kerala, India, which I’ll update you on again soon.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all the happiest of happy New Years!
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