Okayyyy... So who ever says Sri Lanka is exactly like Kerala is sadly mistaken... the beautiful archeological structures, the more than 100-year-old hotels and their beautifully maintained heritage leaves you a bit unspoken. Thanks to Holidaymine.com, we ventured on this unforgettable journey starting from Nuwara Eliya, the most beautiful hill station to Kandy, a small city with a lot of history, to Habbarana for the most exciting and peaceful activity at the same time; "Hot Air Balloon Ride". Yes I did eventually get over my fear of heights!! And finally to the capital city of Colombo, where the city doesn't sleep.
From the airport we first visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where the sight of mama and baby elephants were a joy to watch. We also got the introduced to how Elephant Poo Paper is made (for those who are wondering whats poo paper – its paper made from processed elephant poop – can you believe it!!!)
From there we headed to Glenloch factory who specialize in making export quality Ceylon tea (Sri Lanka was initially called as Ceylon). The ride was beautiful with tea gardens all over the place and we stopped at this place to have breakfast and tasted the very unique string hoppers, a Sri lankan speciality made with rice batter and eggs.
In the tea factory we were shown how black, green and white tea is made. Yes white tea-didn't even know it existed! Know that 10 grams of white tea costs you 3000 Sri Lankan Rupees... We got a chance to taste all the varieties of tea alongwith a show around of the entire estate, thanks to Priya our friendly guide. Ceylon tea tasted light and fresh and it was a great change to have tea without milk. Lunch was some mouth watering Chicken fried rice and Devilled chicken Sri Lankan style.
We moved on to check into our hotel in Nuwara Eliya. It was a 150 years old heritage Brit hotel (supposedly Gentleman's club only) and elegant architecture from like the Queen's Era. The hotel staff was very friendly. The evening was at leisure where we walked around the property feeling the chill in our spine at 12 degrees. In the evening we were pleasantly surprised to receive a cake from Holidaymine, wishing us on our anniversary.
The next day after having a scrumptious breakfast, we left for Hakgala Bottanical Gardens on top of a mountain. Since we reached pretty early, we missed getting lost in the crowd and hiked till the top of the mountain. The view was mesmerizing and the dense fog made us invisible to see each other. Almost felt like getting lost there! It was one of those moments where you are so much at peace, that tears unknowingly moist your eyes. That is exactly how I felt. We tend to forget the beauty & awesomeness of nature till we experience something like this.
To add to that, we had an ideal weather in December where occasionally it would drizzle in the night.
After the hike we came down and had mangoes (yeah mangoes in December in India is like a dream) so we made the most of it obviously with a cup of fresh tea.
From there we drove down to Gregory lake. Now here is a place where you would love to build a house, scenic views of the lake, amazing weather and the tranquility just leaves you in awe... After chilling there like couples, we moved back to our hotel.
On the way back we stopped by a local restaurant to have Kottu roti (Spicy chicken gravy and fried pieces of roti) and Watalappan (a sweet dish similar to jelly custard). It was quite unique in taste and we enjoyed it. I really felt as if I belonged here in the true sense... also for the fact that I looked like a Sri Lankan with highlights like Malinga with localites occasionally talking to me in Singhalese.
Day 3 we left for Kandy, a small city 4 hours away from Nuwara Eliya. On the way we stopped at a strawberry farm and had fresh and yummy strawberry milkshake. Since the farm is on top of a mountain the view was breath taking. Next stop was Ramboda Falls, a big beautiful waterfall. After enjoying the scenic beauty of the drive, we reached our hotel which was bang opposite a beautiful lake...
In the evening we went to the Gem shop... this one was particularly interesting as on top of the store was a hideout museum and the owner took us through the history of gems to be found in the country...
We roamed the city of Kandy in the night searching for some soul food with good music... and found exactly that... a bar called "the Bar" which was filled with foreigners like us (wink wink).. After having some starters and a couple of drinks we walked down back to our hotel along the lakeside and must say, felt so relaxed...
Next day morning after a good night's rest and some filling breakfast we went to the Batik shop where they showed us the entire process of how batik is made. After realizing the time and effort that goes into making Batik, we bought some gifts to take back home! We then visited the Kandy Temple of Tooth Relic and although it was insanely crowded one finds peace. In the evening we went to the Cultural show, where the culture and various dance forms of Sri Lanka was shown to us through a mesmerizing stage show. Perfect ending!
The following day we left for our next destination Habarrana where our next adventure "the hot air balloon ride" awaited. The resort was a newly built one but the service and staff made us feel at home.
D Day... Our anniversary began early morning as we reached our destination at 6 am in the morning with packed breakfast for the hot air balloon ride. As we flew 3000 miles off the ground, the tranquility of the place and the scenic views from above were out of this world. It was truly the best way to celebrate this special day. Since, the driver can't control the direction to which the balloon goes, we ended up landing at a military camp. As soon as we landed all the army personnel running helter skelter and we wondered if we were in trouble.
Soon we were approached by the Major who understood the concern from the local balloon partner and let us inside the Military Quarters. It's something that we had never seen before as civilians are not allowed inside army quarters. This place was absolutely unlike what I had imagined a military quarter to be. It was a beautiful structure Colonel who welcomed us to Sri Lanka. After chatting for some time, we clicked pictures with them and left with some lovely memories of the place.
Since it was our anniversary night, Holidaymine and the hotel staff had arranged for an exclusive candle light dinner next to the pool for just the two of us... It felt so romantic...
The following day, we visited the Dambulla Cave Temple (be ready to climb more than 350 steps!) also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life.
After a great stay at Habbarana, we now moved to the capital city of Colombo. We went shopping in Odel, the biggest chain of stores in Sri Lanka and also did some local street shopping. We also went to the casino for the forbidden experience and found a lot of Indians around who thought we were models ;-) since we were so over decked up (took the tip from the Bond movies lol)
The next day we took a pleasant drive to Galle. This was one of the best attractions of the tour, as the little white buildings felt like we were in Europe. The coffee shops overlooking the oceans were the best place for a romantic date and for enjoying some great food.
The warm hospitality and really friendly localites made me realize, in so many ways, we are very similar to our neighboring country.
Our final day had come and we had to take the flight back home. Although we were going to miss being here, we were so glad we came here and made so many memories.
Thank you Holidaymine for arranging everything as perfect as possible. These memories will stay with us forever.
Blog by TravelChic –Holidaymine's guest blogger is a foodie with a zest for life and passion for travel. Although born in India she believes she has a global taste when it comes to food and travel.. She believes in living life to the fullest of her abilities and the next destinations in her travel plan are Spain, Greece, Seychelles and many more..