Last summer we went on holiday to Sri Lanka, an island located south-west of India in the Indian Ocean. We left for Sri Lanka on the day after my birthday and arrived in Sri Lanka the next day. We transferred flights in Dubai (capital city of the United Arab Emirates), so in total, the 2 legs of our journey lasted 12 hours. We were glad when we finally landed in Colombo airport. After waiting about an hour to get through passport control, we took another hour to drive to a resort that we had booked from the UK and we stayed there for a week. The swimming pool was enormous so as you may remember from our last blog about Winsford Swimming Club, this went down very well. We then moved hotels to go to where we would be meeting our tour leader who we later found out was called Chamara but we called him "Cham", for short.
During our tour, Cham took us around Sri Lanka showing us famous landmarks and interesting places. We also had a driver who was called Denuka. Cham led us to ancient and religious locations such as the Dambulla Cave Temple, Polonnaruwa ancient site, Galle Fort and the Temple of the Tooth.
The Temple of the Tooth was located in Kandy, which used to be the capital city before it changed to Colombo in 1815. The Temple of the Tooth is important because Buddhist's believe it is Buddha's tooth that is stored inside the temple. Every year there are ten processions on consecutive days through Kandy and the tooth is put into 7 gold caskets, each one larger than the one before, then it is placed in a cage on the back of an elephant. The use of elephants is contentious and our tour company didn't support it so we actually left two days before the big festival. However, at certain times of the day the temple allowed Buddhist's and other tourists to take a look at the golden caskets with the tooth inside. Also, while in Kandy we visited the Botanical Gardens which were very interesting because many of the plants had grown in weird formations and were of very vibrant colours.
During our trip, we also visited the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a gigantic rock which an ancient king used as a fortress and later became a monastery. With a total of 1,200 steps the rock stands 200 meters upwards. I was terrified of going up because I am scared of heights but with a lot of encouragement and help, we all made it to the top to witness a beautiful view over the greenness of Sri Lanka.
Cham took us on all sorts of expeditions: to a spice garden; on bike ride around a small town; to a local school to do a Sri Lankan dancing class; to a cultural Fire walking and dancing show and I really enjoyed the cooking curries with a local family.
Later in the tour, we headed upwards into the mountains on a train to the jungle area. We went white water rafting and were taken by a tracker on a jungle walk. At the end of this, dad had picked up 6 leech bites. While still in the mountains, we saw a lot of tea plantations and went to visit Pedro's Tea Factory which included a tour to show us how the tea, that is eventually sold in shops, is processed.
Towards the end, we headed to the southern coast and on our way, we stopped off to see elephants and other animals at the Udawalawe Safari Park. This was great as we got to within 2 metres of a wild elephant in our jeep. We also saw alligators, monitor lizards, water buffalo and several birds of prey. When we arrived at the south coast we enjoyed our time near the sea and went body boarding and played a lot of boules.
The whole time we were in Sri Lanka the weather was great, with the temperature around 25-30 °C and the food was delicious. We all brought back a lot of fantastic, unique memories and would recommend Sri Lanka if you have an opportunity to go.
Have a look at our short video too.