Why visit Sri Lanka? There is just something special about Sri Lanka. My soul is being stirred continually. I feel like I have stepped back in time. To a simpler life. Albeit somewhat chaotic, a life where people are truly connected by the ordinary moments of daily life.
There are so many moments when you travel. Moments that are not able to be captured on camera. Moments that resonate somewhere deep inside of you. Mental snapshots. Encounters with locals. Delightful, and some not so delightful, moments of real life unfolding before your very eyes.
Sri Lanka is a developing country. It is a country moving forward after a twenty-seven-year civil war that ended in 2009. It was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004. Poverty, corrugated tin shacks and scrawny dogs are daily sights. Perhaps this history contributes to the beautiful energy in this country.
The people have warmed my heart. Strangers glance curiously our way. When I use the most precious gift I have, my smile, I am rewarded with beautiful smiles and nods in return.
Why Visit Sri Lanka? Its People
When the bicycle bell tinkled, I just knew what was about to happen. Sure enough, the mailman glided down the driveway and dug into his metal basket to hand the guesthouse hostess her morning mail. What transpired was not just a mail delivery but a daily ritual. An exchange of smiles and small talk. Community.
Riding the local buses this sense of community is palpable. On one trip, when all the students piled on to the bus, there were knowing glances. Older students looking out for younger ones, backpacks piled onto the laps of people lucky enough to have a seat.
When the bus passed Diyaluma Falls, the driver motioned for me to take a picture. He stopped the bus, looked at me and said, “Get out!” I replied, “Well don’t leave without me!” I hopped out and snapped a few pictures while the entire busload waited! Definitely a moment.
There was the tuk-tuk driver, Fawmy, we had used in Haputale. He happened to be at the train station the day our train was delayed. We chatted for a while and when he realized we had no food for the journey, he offered to take me in his tuk tuk to buy snacks for the train ride. Time. Generosity.
While admiring the stone carving in the wall at the Dowa Temple, a group of Sri Lankans, after much giggling, asked us to be in their photograph.
When we entered the Dowa Temple, the man in charge personally escorted us and proudly showed us the ancient cave paintings and Buddhas. He tied strings around our wrists (very, very, important assured our guesthouse host) helped us wrap coins as an offering, and left us to meditate in peace.
Why Visit Sri Lanka? Old World Charm
Sri Lanka is bursting with old-world charm. Train conductors, men in trousers, dress shirts and flip flops, ladies in their saris, tea served in china teapots with heated milk alongside, cows wandering down the road, daily electricity interruptions, men in sarongs pedalling their bikes and people joyfully bathing in rivers and waterfalls together. I am called “Madam” by everyone.
Sri Lankans curiously ask where you are from. It is the first question they pose. When we proudly say, “Canada” there is a slight pause. Then they respond, “It is hard to meet Canadians.” “Oh, Canada…so far away.” “You are lucky to be born in Canada. It is a peaceful and safe country, like Australia.” “You have snow.” When we tell them it can get to minus 30, they are incredulous. Short conversations with strangers lead to a handshake and an exchange of names. Every time.
Sri Lankans are proud of their country. In many conversations, I am told that their “Ceylon tea is world famous” and that it is “exported all over the world.” They want you to have a great experience – to hike their mountains, to ride the trains, to visit their temples, tea plantations and beaches. They grin from ear to ear when you tell them that you love a local dish. The grin turns into a huge beam when you tell them that you love their country.
Why Visit Sri Lanka? The Natural Beauty
Sri Lanka, the jewel of the Indian Ocean, is a land of unparalleled natural beauty. From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to misty mountains and cascading waterfalls, the island nation boasts an abundance of stunning landscapes that will leave you in awe.
The emerald green tea plantations that blanket the hillsides offer a breathtaking view that is unrivaled, while the national parks teeming with exotic wildlife and birdlife offer a safari experience that will take your breath away.
The sunsets over the Indian Ocean are simply magical, painting the sky in hues of pink, orange and gold, while the starry skies above the mountains offer a sight that is truly awe-inspiring.
The landscape is breathtaking.
Why Visit Sri Lanka? The Wildlife
Sri Lanka is a wildlife lover’s paradise, offering a vast array of exotic species that roam the island’s lush forests, grasslands and wetlands. The country is home to over 100 species of mammals, including majestic elephants, elusive leopards, playful monkeys and agile deer, as well as over 400 species of birds, ranging from the resplendent peacock to the elusive junglefowl.
The island’s tropical climate provides the perfect habitat for an abundance of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, including the fearsome crocodile, colourful chameleons, and jewel-like butterflies.
One of the most unique features of Sri Lanka’s wildlife is its large population of wild elephants, with some estimates suggesting that the country has the highest density of elephants in Asia.
Whether you’re exploring the national parks or simply admiring the wildlife from a distance, Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and diverse wildlife is a truly unforgettable experiences.
The National Parks and wildlife are show-stopping.
Sri Lanka: Full Of Spiritual Mysticism
There is an air of spiritual mysticism where Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians practice their faiths. It is part of their daily lives. On one bus ride, the conductor hopped out to place an offering as we passed a Buddhist temple. Monks get the front seats on buses. Full moon days are a holiday and families, dressed in white, visit their temples.
The island is dotted with thousands of temples, stupas, and monasteries, each offering a glimpse into the country’s vibrant religious culture.
The ancient city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to some of the oldest and most revered Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, including the iconic Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is said to have grown from a cutting of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Polonnaruwa, a thriving city during the 11th and 12th centuries, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins of the city include ancient temples, stupas, and palaces. Some of the most famous landmarks in Polonnaruwa include the Royal Palace, the Gal Vihara statues, and the ancient irrigation systems that helped to sustain the city’s population.
The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy is another sacred site of great importance to Sri Lankan Buddhists, housing a relic believed to be a tooth of the Buddha himself.
Why visit Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka is one of my favourite countries I have visited. I hope you enjoy visiting Sri Lanka as much as I did.
Until next time,