Spontaneous weekend to Sri Lanka

One of the main attractions to us when we were first offered the opportunity to move to Dubai, was to take advantage of being so central to the world and to travel to places we would never travel to from South Africa.

With our first wedding anniversary coming up on the 18th of October and Thursday the 15th having just been declared a public Holiday in the UAE, we decided to make the most of the long weekend and be spontaneous. With the public Holiday only having been confirmed on the Monday, not much thought went into the trip, but by the Tuesday we officially had flights/visas/accommodation and a 3day tour package organised to experience the island country of Sri Lanka.

We flew from Dubai, via Doha, and eventually after a rather frustrating time through customs in Doha, another 4 hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka saw us arrive at 08h00 on Thursday morning. We where greeted at arrivals by the friendliest tour guide, Gayan, who would show us around his home country for the next 3 days.

After a brief explanation of our planned trip we started making our way toward Kandy city, which is in the centre of Sri Lanka. After the first couple of km we both agreed that it felt very similar to travelling on the roads in Zanzibar, with cows, dogs, tuk-tuks, scooters, busses and pedestrians scatted all over the narrow roads, which wind their way through the rural countryside covered with natural forest and coconut plantations. Our first stop was the elephant orphanage, and after reading up on trip advisor we were expecting the worst, as peoples comments had really made the place sound as if the elephants were treated poorly. Fortunately this was not the case and the facilities were in good shape, animals seemed to be in good condition and overall it seemed like a well run setup. However there were a few Ellies that had chains around their legs, as they were the new recruits to the orphanage and needed to be trained to have people around them. Taryn got to touch an elephant for the first time, after our guide Gayan very kindly bribed one of the handlers out of his own pocket, as he could see she was interested.

From the elephant orphanage we were taken down to the river for lunch, where we sat on a deck over looking the elephants.  Watching the elephants come down to the river through the streets was quite an experience.  After lunch we continued the drive on to Kandy, stopping to look at huge bats which hung from the trees over the river.

We were lucky enough to get a complementary upgrade on our hotel from the package we had booked through Groupon, which was a bonus.  The hotel was a year old and very flashy with over the top gold decor.  However the rooms were very comfortable and we had a great view over the Kandy forests, which was extra special when the rain came bucketing down.

Day two we headed to The Temple of The Tooth, where we had to hire a skirt for Brad as his shorts didn’t quite cover his knees.  Apparently one of Buddha’s teeth is locked away in this temple, making it a sacred place.  The temple was fascinating to walk around, and being able to experience a different culture in a different country, was something so very different to our day to day living.  Locals queued to give offerings to the monks who live in the temple and Taryn bought flowers to put down as an offering, where each flower is meant to represent a dream, so let’s see if any come true.

After the temple we were taken to the Botanical gardens in Kandy, where we spent an hour and a half walking along the river banks through the tropical gardens.  Here after we were taken to see a cultural dance in the local hall, which was a popular tourist attraction, but we didn’t find it very appealing and wouldn’t recommend putting this in your itinerary, even though it is only an hour. One of Taryn’s colleagues at work had recommended a local british owned pub “Slightly Chilled”, where we went for drinks and dinner, we highly recommend visiting this if you are ever in Kandy.

Our last day we started off the morning by going on an hour hike through the forbidden forrest.  It is known as the forbidden forrest, as no one is allowed to live there apart from the few monks that we spotted strolling around the trees.  After the rains the paths were covered in leaches which kept flicking up onto our legs, a harrowing experience trying to pull them off.  I would hate to know what other creepy crawlies live in those tropical forests.

We then went back to our hotel for a shower before starting the 6 hour journey back to the airport in Colombo.  Along the way we visited a tea factory, where we had a cup of tea and purchased a mango flavoured tea to try back home.

The journey back to Dubai was never going to be great as we only got back to our apartment at 4:00am, with work starting at 8.  However the experience and the opportunity we had to travel to Sri Lanka was worth the long journey, and if we ever return one day, we’d like to explore the coastline.

Until then, lets keep ticking off those 30 countries before we turn 30.

The King Coconut is orange in colour. It has more juice than flesh.
The King Coconut is orange in colour. It has more juice than flesh.

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The Elephant Orphanage

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The view from our hotel room
The view from our hotel room

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The Temple Of The Tooth

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The Botanical Garden

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Made in the wood carving factory.
Made in the wood carving factory.

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Karyn being dressed in a sari
Taryn being dressed in a sari

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The Cultural Show

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The Forbidden Forrest

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Trip back to Colombo Airport

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Not every day you see an elephant in traffic
Not every day you see an elephant in traffic

A very special thank you to my husband who organised the trip without me knowing.  I married you a year ago today, when I look back over the past year that we’ve spent together, on all the adventures we’ve been on and the different life experiences we’ve been through together, I can only imagine that the future with you will always be an adventure.  You are my best friend, my support, my light at the end of a long day and my shoulder to lean on.  Thank you for being the most amazing person, for treating me like gold and always putting my needs first.  I love you more and more each day and I look forward to what else life has to throw at us.

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