Discovering my roots: Sri Lanka

The sun has hit London, Summer has arrived! I hope this isn’t it but a sneak peak to what is waiting for us in the next few months… 

Despite the beautiful weather, I am still in complete holiday blues mode after one of my best trips yet…. Sri Lanka – The mother land, or father land shall I say. I did a speech about my trip in my toastmaster’s meeting last week which summarised our holiday quite nicely, with a top level 10 day itinerary, in case you are currently planning a perfect getaway. I will of course be following this up with more detailed posts of our adventures in separate posts, but here’s to the first of the series. 

80 years, It was 80 years ago that a young man moved from the country side of Sri Lanka with nothing but hope to build a life in a growing city, now known as Singapore.

That man was my grandfather.
My grandfather died when I was 7 and my memories of him are limited to the stories he told me and my cousins as we gathered around him.  So 20 years later I was on the plane to see this beautiful country he spoke of, for myself.

Me and my 3 friends traveled into Colombo, the capital, down towards the central highlands and then to the southwest coast . We spent our first night in Kandy, a city bordering the highlands. Our stay in Kandy was quick, one of the things we saw was the herbs and spice gardens and learnt of all the herbal medications used since many people can’t afford doctors, I’ll write another post to tell you of some of the herbs and their benefits, all in all though it was a bit of a tourist trap.

The next morning we took the most scenic 5.5 hour train ride to Ella. Imagine a slow locomotive with open doors that you could peer out of, overlooking the never ending tea plantations and mountains. We realised on the train that the theme of our trip would be “risking our lives for the gram”. It started with our train pictures, we lent our full bodies out of the train’s open doors, while the other took the picture from another carriage down. Let’s just bear in mind that the train is  very bumpy and there have been people who have fallen off, so please please be very safe and hold on tightly ( can we just take a moment to appreciate this guy’s facial expression )

ella train rideThen we arrived to the enchanted region of Ella, just over 1,000 meters above sea level. We spent two days in Ella which is enough unless you want to spend a lot more time hiking in the colossal jungle. We climbed little Adam’s peak , a famous mountain,(because the actual Adam’s peak was too much work for us) and sat on the edge of the peak, just for an inspiring yoga-pose picture. It was when I looked down from that edge, heart literally pounding out of my chest, that it dawned on me – I didn’t get travel insurance!!

sri lanka ella

Sri lanka adam's peak

I reeled my fiery, adventurous soul in the next few days. After Ella we got a driver to take us to Ahanganma, a beautiful surfer’s beach in the south. En route we stopped at Udawalawe national park for a magnificent Safari… but I won’t give away too much on that here so stay tune.

udawalawe national park

Once we got to the coast, we spent 5 days exploring the different pit stops from Mirissa, the coastal town of Galle and Hikkadua. My attempt to be more cautious with my activities went astray when we got to Hikkadua. The main attraction here are the wild giant sea turtles. As soon as we got to the beach this local guy approached us saying he could take us out on his boat to snorkel with fish and sea turtles in the coral reefs for a small price.

We were sold the dream.

To cut  the long story short, lives were risked to get out into the open waters, just to find out that the sea turtles came up to shore… for free.

Either way, the whole holiday left me completely smitten with my grand dads home country. What a lot of people don’t know is the actual blood that has been shed in Sri Lanka. The tension between the Tamils and Sinhalese in the country has been ongoing for years and thousands have lost their lives. While things are a lot calmer now you can see that it is a pain that is still raw and remembered by many.

I was speaking to a local man one day and he said that Sri Lanka is paradise and everyone is Sri Lankan. There is no Muslim, Catholic or Tamil in the country just Sri Lankan. And while many of the people are poor, the country is rich. Rich in its landscape, its wildlife , its fruits, its culture and heritage and of course, its tea.

When my grandfather passed away in Singapore, his one request was for some of his ashes to be scattered back into the ocean that blessed the Sri Lankan land. I never understood it, he had built a life and a family in Singapore, but I guess his heart never really left home – And now I finally understand why.

IMG_2614

XOXO

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