1 February 2019

3 Days in Sri Lanka

Location: Sri Lanka

ආයුඛෝවන්! Hello from Sri Lanka!
This is the first part of a two week, six city trip. Sri Lanka is full of surprises and has so many different parts to explore and different things to do - we were spoilt for choice! We chose to take on the Southern part of the island and travelled in a circle, looping back to Colombo at the end. I understand a lot of people aren't able to travel for an extended period of time, so this is a little journey plan for those of you who only have a few days in Sri Lanka!

DAY 1, COLOMBO
Accommodation: Highbury Colombo
We booked two rooms for 6 people which averaged out to be approx. $72.50AUD/person/night
Centrally located in the heart of Colombo, around a 10-15 minute drive to everything. 

It is a house converted into a bed and breakfast. 
The grounds were lovely, the bathrooms weren't the best but the room was clean 
and the grounds and staff were lovely. 

We hired a driver for the duration of our trip (details will be left at the end of this post) 
so he picked us up from our hotel and took us for a one day trip around Colombo!


The Dutch Hospital shopping precinct was recommended to me as a food spot. There are a few local and international restaurants in their and a few small shops. The famous Ministry of Crab restaurant is located inside but we couldn't get a booking so we ate at Black Pepper Crab down the road instead. We had a feast of garlic chilli crab, curry prawn, Jaffna traditional Sri Lankan curry crab and black pepper crab of course! 


Galle Face is sort of like a beach park, a lot of families came out at sunset to play in the water and cool down. There are a lot of street food stalls that line the beach as well.
We were also recommended to try out the cocktails at Galle Face Hotel which sits at the end of the beach. Do take a peek inside if you get the chance - it's beautiful!


DAY 2, PINNAWALA
On our way to our next city, Kandy, we decided to stopover in Pinnawala to see the elephants. We did a lot of research on the elephant sanctuaries and parks and couldn't find any with amazing reviews. It took around 3 hours to drive to Pinnawala and it is filled with all things elephants! We saw an elephant crossing just as we arrived.


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage 
2500LKR/person
I read some reviews that described it as a tourist trap. Some of the elephants had chains around their legs but all of them looked to be in good health. Their are 'bathing times' when the elephants are brought over to the river. The elephants seemed to really enjoy cooling themselves down in the water and their handlers even helped bathe them. There is a restaurant overlooking the river where you can get the perfect view and a food recharge! 


KANDY
Accommodation: Maya Residence
We struggled to find suitable accommodation here for 6 people that wouldn't break the bank but also looked comfortable and clean. This was a house converted into a hotel. The rooms were simple and clean but we couldn't get a wifi signal and had plumbing issues with our room. It was a 5 minute walk to the centre strip of restaurants. We booked 3 separate rooms and it ended up being approx. 25AUD/person/night, which is a definite bargain!

Another one hour drive and we finally made it to Kandy. It was the last capital for the ancient king's era, so it is full of history. It is surrounded by forests and is known for the Temple of the Tooth. 
We opted to do something a little different and went with a traditional Sri Lankan cooking lesson instead!

25USD/person
Highly rated on Tripadvisor, I was skeptical at first but it was such a fun experience! You can choose from a lunch or dinner class, which lasts around 3 hours each. You can also choose to go shopping with them for all the ingredients and see how they choose everything. The price includes the ingredients and pickup/drop off as well. Our chef and guide Wasu brought us into his home and taught us all we needed to know about all the herbs and spices that are used in traditional Sri Lankan cooking. I'm a terrible cook and know nothing bout spices and flavouring but Wasu made sure the experience was entertaining and interactive. We started off with a pop quiz on spices and preparing all the vegetables. He had a few crazy side shows of chopping onions blindfolded and crushing garlic with his bare hands as well haha.


We were taught how to flavour all the curries and then had the opportunity to cook in their traditional kitchen. We made 7 vegetable curries, 1 chicken curry, coconut symbol and even fried up our own papadams! I assumed it would just be our group of 6, but we were combined with 2 other groups which made the experience even more fun and we got to make some new friends as well. We had some hilarious cooking encounters and a truly traditional Sri Lankan experience! 


DAY 3, DAMBULLA
We woke up bright and early on our second day in Kandy at 6.00am to start the 3 hour drive to Sigiriya or Lion's Rock. My friend recommended us to get there by 9.00am or it starts to get REALLY busy. We got there around 9.30am and there was already a line to get in and there were human traffic jams on the actual stairs of the rock to get up. 

Sigiriya
Approx. 4500LKR/person
This hike isn't too tedious but it is a lot of stairs. The stairs are mostly man made with the exception of a few mud stairs so the climb isn't too difficult. You don't need to wear hiking gear, but a good pair of grippy shoes will be required. The stairs at the top of the rock get quite narrow as well, I have tiny feet and still ended up climbing them sideways. The climb to the top is probably only 20-30 minutes but it took closer to an hour because of the amount of people, so the line was going VERY slow.


The gardens at the bottom are well maintained and lusciously green! But the view at the top of Lion's Rock was amazing. It was used as the base of King Kashyapa's Palace in the 5th century and the palace ruins are still there today. It is very well maintained and truly an experience! Don't forget to stop by mirror wall on your climb up to Lion's Rock, it was built by King Kashyapa over 1600 years ago and was so highly polished that you could see your reflection in it as you walked along. Now it is covered in messages and graffiti from visitors over the years and has been corded off to prevent further graffiti.


That concludes the first part of our trip to Sri Lanka.
I made a vlog of our trip as well, that can be found here on Youtube.

Driver details:
Mobile & WhatsApp: +94 77 035 1030
Email: shiyanfazool@gmail.com
Web: www.srilankaprivatedriver.com

Our driver's name was Asanka and he was the best! Super lovely and patient and looked after us and protected us from getting overcharged. He found places for us to go and had good knowledge of all the cities. He is an experienced and safe driver.
Our fee was just under 1200AUD for a van for 14 days. The fee covers all meals and accommodations for the driver. Most hotels/villas have driver accommodation in Sri Lanka, but if that isn't the case the driver can book a place to stay, which is also covered by the fee.
I highly recommend getting a driver, it would have been so difficult and stressful getting from city to city with all our bags, navigating our way and finding new transport everyday.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Sri Lanka trip to Ella, Udawalawe, Yala and Galle!

Jenny


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