Slightly under the radar with all of the culture, scenery, and food of its surrounding neighbours, Sri Lanka has so much to offer and experience in the south of Asia. Our Flightie Isabelle Pare visited this beautiful country and fell in love with it. Here are 5 reasons why you’ll fall in love with Sri Lanka, too.
I don’t know about you, but hearing the country’s name for the first time years ago struck a chord with me. I didn’t know exactly where Sri Lanka was, which ocean it might be near, or what the food was like, but I knew I had to know more about it immediately. When I finally looked it up, I decided I had to be here – turned out, “here” was halfway around the world. This is my list of the top five things I loved about Sri Lanka, after touring this beautiful country. Guided by knowledgeable tour leaders, I saw sides of Sri Lanka I would never have found on my own.
1. The Scenery
The natural beauty of this country is remarkable. It’s home to hundreds of species of plants and trees and has many lakes scattered over its valleys. Nature is predominant here because there are no highways, only single lane roads to travel all parts of the country.
2. The Wildlife
Sri Lanka is home to all kinds of wildlife including elephants, monkeys, jaguars, snakes and birds. I was fortunate to do a Udawalawe National Park Jeep safari to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Watch out for the monkeys, though! Our tour leader told us that they are opportunists, so if they see an open window or you flaunting a pastry – they will go for it. If you’re minding your own business, there’s nothing to worry about.
3. The Locals
On tour, we had an authentic local experience with a Kanyanwala village family. They showed us how they harvest their rice paddies and guard their crops against elephants and other wildlife. It’s interesting to see the local way of life. Most of the rooves of the homes here are thatched with palm branches and the locals grow almost every fruit and vegetable locally, including okra! Speaking of which…
4. The Food
I’m a little bit of a foodie. I grew up with a pastry chef sister and a mom who could be a Top Chef if she ever wanted to be. A good home cooked meal was always on the table growing up. Nowadays, nothing beats trying local food and experiencing new flavours while abroad. My favourite meal might have been the one I ate with my hands, as it was the most authentic feeling. All of my senses coming together, cooking the meal, smelling its aromas, feeling the food between my fingers and then tasting all of the flavours and textures. Another amazing food you must try is called Kottu. They make it by chopping up fine bits of roti bread with fresh vegetables, chives, and a ‘protein’ of your choice. Think spicy, Sri Lankan pasta.
5. The Temples
Walking through the neighbourhoods, it’s hard to not stop and admire the many beautiful mosques and temples in Sri Lanka. Discovering them is a serene, enriching and full experience. Waking up to the sounds of prayer at the mosque, looking at Hindu temples up close to see the embellishments, deities, figures, and intricate ornamental decorations, Buddhist monks passing by in orange robes. These experiences are worth the visit alone.
Sri Lanka is country unlike any other. It’s not the largest tourist draw at the moment, which is perfect because you’ll get to see a part of the world that is off the beaten path, and discover its authenticity and culture. I would go back in a heartbeat.