Escapees in Sri Lanka
Words by: Maddie Meddings
It all starts with the rain. It always, always starts with the rain. November comes and you just need to escape. Not that there’s anything wrong with England. In fact during the summer I struggle to see why you’d want to spend your days anywhere else. However, when that thermometer drops and those bobble hats get their regular outings there’s a lot to be said for hopping on a plane and jetting into the unknown, slightly warmer climates. So here we are, escapees spending three weeks in beautiful Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon) is a small island just off of the Southeast coast of India. Open to the entirety of the Indian Ocean Sri Lanka is an up and coming surf destination, and being relatively close (1000 miles close) to Indonesia, has been named ‘mini-Indo’. Zak and I were pretty chuffed to say the least, consistent 4ft plus swell complete with clear blue water, white sands and a backdrop to take your breath away. Because we were there throughout December it meant that, surf-wise only the south coast was working. There were plenty of spots to choose from, a salty cocktail of beach breaks, reefs and points that reeled their way to perfection. Our only problem with the Sri Lankan surf was the crowds; however we soon learnt to pick and choose our waves.
Though we based our days around surfing it didn’t mean we missed out on the culture of such a beautiful country, in fact, our days were often filled with a variety of touristy activities. There’s a surprising amount of things to fill your day with, an example being the brilliant snake garden, a hidden gem of an afternoon tucked away behind kilometers of thick green jungle and acres of rice paddies. We took a rather unnerving Tuktuk journey there. You see the thing with us Brits is that we’re generally a lot taller and bigger than the Sri Lankan folk; thus planting doubts into your mind as to whether this little mo-ped contraction can actually succeed in carrying you up near vertical hills on shoulder width paths. However, never doubt these drivers, they’re skilled at what they do, and before we knew it we were there, in a little back garden awaiting the opening of the garage doors and our inescapable doom. Ha! I’m completely joking, it was brilliant fun. We were presented with an array of reptiles, cobra’s, tree snakes, bigger tree snakes, tarantulas... the lot!
Another of our day trips included our visit to the tea plantation. There are tons of them around, seeing as Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters of tea in the world. The setting was just beautiful, acre upon acre of varieties of trees, all of which contain something of value to them, whether it’s tea, cinnamon, rubber or coffee, all hidden under a thick canopy of leaves meters up. Our guide was a very special guy named Xavier. In the space of an hour Zak and I learnt to respect him, for he knew over ten languages and more about British history, and everything else, than we could ever imagine possible. He showed us around all the varie-teas (Pun intended) of plants growing there, informing us of their individual stories along with information about how they’re gathered. We then got the opportunity to see the machinery that’s involved in producing the tea as we see it back at home; machinery that was designed and manufactured by the same engineers whom built the titanic 103 years ago. Finally it was tea-tasting time. Presented with a huge selection of beautifully colored teas lined up in a perfectionist’s heaven, we didn’t know where to begin. My favourite was the yogi tea and the pure lemon grass, factory fresh, as Xavier liked to say! One of the surprising things about this place was that the tour was free. Of course you were directed towards the gift shop at the end, but I went willingly, anything to give back to such a brilliant organization.
The kindness of the Sri Lankan people was both surprising and inspirational. In a country where money is little and tourism is rising, I expected to be haggled and hassled to exhaustion, a usual factor of such a trip, but I was pleasantly surprised. These people are made up of love, and though occasionally money comes to play, their only wish is to help you. Their kindness and brilliance shone through in everything they do, whether it’s just giving you a ride, selling you a coconut or making you a curry, they make it an experience. Now it is my duty to go into a little more detail on the food; it was just that good. Curries all round and at spectacular prices; Zak and I could both eat and drink our way to Buddha-bellied fullness for the equivalent of £2.50! My particular favourite was a vegetable pumpkin curry, just delicious. But there was so much to choose from, so much fresh fish - Tuna, barracuda and prawns were a regular on the menu. We also fell in love with a specialty snack/ tasty treat called a rotti, a sort of crispy pancake filled with your choice of innards, the best by far being banana and Nutella!
All in all Sri Lanka is fab, the waves, the food, the scenery and the people; it’s everything you could want from a holiday. From what we heard and saw tourism is booming there, this is great for the people there and their living standards. If you’re searching for somewhere a little more rural and untouched by us westerners you may have to search a little harder, perhaps further inland or along the coast. Huge props to the country, Sri Lanka has given myself and Zak three weeks of perfection.